This is the final article in a three-part series with a heavy emphasis on empowering children, but also some practical everyday things parents can do to protect children from sexual predators. The series is divided as follows:
- Four Biblical Truths to Empower Children Against Sexual Predators
- Teaching Kids Godly Disobedience to Protect Them From Sexual Predators
- Six Practical Tips for Parents to Help Protect Their Children from Sexual Predators (reading now)
To Protect Children from Sexual Predators You Do Not Need to Be Overly Restrictive
If you read my previous blogs on the topic, you will know I am a big believer in empowering children as a better strategy than keeping them cooped up in a bubble. I let my children play at other people’s houses and I let them play outside. I want them to learn how to handle themselves in difficult situations and not be paralyzed in a dangerous scenario. Empowering children should be the first step (my first two articles on the subject), but here are some practical tips for parents that can help protect their children from sexual predators while still allowing them to enjoy the beauty of being a child.
Create a Culture of Open Doors
I really dislike closed doors. If you read my blog on when I was abused you will understand why.
Therefore, in our house, we have a culture of opened doors. My husband and I keep our doors opened. We don’t keep secrets from our kids and there are few things we do that require a closed door. There are the obvious, of course, changing, showering, and our marriage right, but outside of that we have little to hide from our kids.
My girls know closed doors are a must to protect the pureness of their bodies, but for everything else — doors stay open. Of course, if my nine-year-old and her friends are being too loud, my 14-year-old closes her door. But it is part of our family culture to keep our doors open. We don’t keep secrets and we don’t hide things from each other so there is no reason to close our doors. It is not a hard and fast rule, just part of a family culture we have created.
How does this protect kids from sexual predators? Predators do what they do in secret and it usually always involves a closed door. For my girls, if an adult closes a door with them inside they instinctively know they have to devise an exit strategy.
If our family culture is a bit too extreme, you can still set certain guidelines for your children.
For example, Doors always remain open when other adults or older kids are around.
You want to train a child that if an adult or much older kid closes a door with them inside that it is not okay and then help them role-play different exit strategies.
Control and Monitor Electronic Devices (Protect Children from Online Predators)
In our modern world, predators use electronic devices to groom and contact their victims. Your child is in a lot more danger of being contacted via a social media channel than being snatched off the street. Predators will pretend to be kids and play the online games your kids play, for example. They start with “innocent” conversations and slowly push boundaries to see how your kids react. They are master manipulators and will slowly groom kids until they get them to do what they wanted.
For that reason, it is imperative that parents control and monitor their kid’s devices. This is the one area where I am the most strict.
I am not going to go into details on monitoring devices here since there are numerous resources out there that help parents in this area. A simple online search can help get you started. You will find that there are services like Bark and NetNanny that will monitor and filter internet searches and chatting on your kid’s devices. You will also find that there are parental controls and screen time limits that you can set up on their phones and tablets. Many times there are also parental controls available for specific games or social media apps.
Remember, kids need outdoor play, opportunities for creativity, and community–not electronics. Restricting their use will only help your child.
Protect Your Children with a Personal Alarm
Each of my girls has a small personal alarm that will make the most ridiculous amount of noise when activated. If they are playing outside or if we are in places where I am not close by, they carry it with them. It is a simple tool, but it is a tool my girls can use if they ever feel in danger. You can order them here at Amazon.
Teach Kids About Their Bodies
A child that is fully aware of her body is very unsettling for a predator. Children who know little about their bodies make easier prey for a simple reason. They are more likely to keep quiet about a predator’s behavior. On the other hand, a child who can recognize and question inappropriate behavior will become too risky and predators are likely to move on.
This is why most experts agree that teaching kids about their bodies and about sex helps protect them. However, I know many Christian parents are reluctant to broach either subject. Don’t be. It is possible to maintain your child’s innocence and talk about their bodies, puberty, and sex by doing it in an appropriate biblical manner. In Puberty and Sex: Why Christian Parents Should Have “The Talk” Early I go into the details why. Feel free to also use my eBook “Preparing our Daughters for Puberty, A Mother-Daughter Bible Study” as a helpful resource.
Trust Your Gut (Holy Spirit)
I truly believe that those eerie feelings we get are many times the Holy Spirit talking. Getting into the habit of walking with God and learning to hear His voice can help us in difficult scenarios. There have been many times when that gut feeling saved me from dangerous situations.
When it comes to your children, talk to God often. Ask him for guidance. For example, ask Him if it is okay to send your kids over to play at a particular friend’s house. And if you get that weird feeling, just say no.
Pray To Protect Your Children from Sexual Predators
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of prayer. No matter how careful and how much we try, we will never be able to fully protect our children. Only God can. Release them every day into His hands and then just walk in the trust that He has them. At the end of the day, they belong to Him. We do our best as parents to be good stewards of these precious gifts He gave us, but only He can truly keep them safe.
Here are some other helpful resources:
Feel free to check out this helpful YouTube video where I was interviewed about protecting kids from sexual predators by Mercy Djenebou Bouare founder and CEO of Leadership Excellence for Women by Women. I give some advice based on my experiences but you will also be provided with helpful insights by both the host and Pastor Lucy DeLeon who has extensive experience counseling abuse survivors.
Don’t forget to check out these other articles on how to protect children from sexual predators.
I am interested in your thoughts or other useful tips you may have to help keep our kiddos safe! Please make sure to comment below!