Center for Behavioral Intervention: Understanding and Protecting your Children from Child Molesters and Predators
This collection of information was compiled by Steven Jensen and Cory Jewell Jensen who are sex offender therapists at the Center for Behavioral Intervention, a Court-mandated treatment facility in Beaverton, Oregon.
In talking with sex offenders, they learned that our traditional methods of teaching prevention don’t work (for example: “Stranger Danger,” “No! Go! Tell!”) As terms of their treatment, offenders began sharing information about their grooming techniques and methods of operation. These documents turn traditional child sexual assault prevention on its head. Click here for more info.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
This organization is a clearinghouse of information on child sex trafficking, child sexual exploitation, child safety and prevention strategies, Amber Alerts and missing children for law enforcement, families and the media.
CARES Northwest: Child Abuse and Neglect Resources
Child Abuse Response and Evaluation Services (CARES) Northwest is a collaborative community-based medical program whose mission is to stop child abuse and neglect through multi-disciplinary prevention, medical evaluation and ongoing treatment in partnership with our community. There are resources for parents and caregivers on prevention and how to respond if a child has been abused as well as resources designed to address children’s inappropriate sexual behavior and how to help children develop in sexually healthy ways. Most resources are available in English and Spanish. There is also a list of state and national child advocacy centers.
FBI: Social Networking Sites
This article details the risks that young people face on social networking sites. It encourages parents to be aware of the sites their children are using and to become involved in their interactions. Parents can read advice on how to educate their children about the risks and the steps they can take to protect themselves online. Click here for the article.
Connect Safely: Safety Tips and Advice
The links in this website give very detailed advice for parents about online safety and how to prevent victimization using online resources. Other information is geared toward youth. Topics covered include revenge porn, sexting, sextortion, cyberbullying and safety tips for video sharing.
The National Child Stress Network (NCSN): Resources for Parents and Caregivers
This website provides information and resources for parents and caregivers whose children are experiencing traumatic stress. Some of the issues addressed are: childhood traumatic grief, domestic violence, medical trauma, physical abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse, terrorism, disaster and military-related family tragedy. They also have a list of children’s books suitable for all ages. Click here for more information.
Talking to Kids about Safety
by the City of Portland's Crime Prevention Program
Talking to your child about how to stay safe is an important proactive measure that you can take that will benefit him or her in the long run. These conversations can be conducted in a way that does not scare or alarm your child, but instead communicates that this is “just what we do.” Discussions about safety are more than a one-time conversation and will need to be adjusted for the appropriate developmental stage of your child. Establishing a ritual of night-time discussions i.e. at the dinner table about how the day went is a great way to open up lines of communication. This can also make it easier for your child to talk about concerns they might have with any adults or peers.
Some important points to communicate:
- Teach them how to be aware and alert when they are out in public. A healthy vigilance over what is going on in their environment can help them identify if there are any potential problems in the area and when they may need help. Encourage them to avoid distractions such as texting while they are walking.
- Encourage them to pay attention to their location. What is the street and nearest cross street that they are walking on? That way if they need to call you or the police for help, they will have that information handy.
- Trusting his or her instincts or gut feeling is important. Many children are taught to ignore this natural alarm system over time, which makes them more vulnerable.
- It's OK to say NO—whether they say it to an adult who they know or don’t know. In addition, it’s okay to say no to peers. There are times when they don’t have to be polite.
- There are adults who can help them in their lives (police officers, fire fighters, store clerks, bus drivers, letter carriers, teachers/school counselors, friends’ parents, neighbors, clergy, etc.). If you are not available, they can always approach a helping adult to let them know about a problem including seeing an adult or kid behaving in a manner that makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. You can practice this in public.
- He or she should check in first with you before going somewhere with another person, even someone they know. Even if that person says that it’s okay with you or your partner. They should always check in if there is a change of plans.
- Learning and memorizing the following information may be helpful in case of an emergency: their full names, parents’/guardians’ full names, addresses, including city and state, phone numbers, including area codes, and your contact information during work.
- They can use their words to call attention to themselves (describe what’s happening if they feel unsafe, “Let go of me. I don’t know you. You’re NOT my Mom. Somebody HELP me!”)
- There are things they can do if they get lost such as staying right where they are and waiting for help to find them , or going to where lots of people are and ask for help (in a store, go to the cash register or in a park, to other parents).
- Most adults are safe, but sometimes adults may try to trick them by asking for directions or help finding a lost pet or asking to take their pictures. It's important for them to get away from the situation fast and alert a helping adult of the situation.
- Teach them how to call 9-1-1, and that they should stay on the line until the dispatcher tells them it’s ok to hang up. Let them know that they can’t text 9-1-1 to communicate at this point in time.
- Using the "buddy system" or partner system can help them stay safe. Whether your child is waiting for the bus, riding their bike or heading to the mall, it can be helpful when they are with friends.
- He or she can always come to you with problems or concerns of any kind and without judgment.
- It’s not okay to keep secrets no matter who the person telling that secret is. Secrets are not the same as surprises, such as gifts or surprise parties.
- Even if he/she breaks a rule, he or she can always come to you about a problem that has happened after the rule was broken. Concern over how a parent will react can leave a child feeling uncomfortable confiding in a parent. This doesn’t mean that the child won’t receive a normal punishment for the infraction, but that the two incidents should be separated and not seen as causal. Some kids think that because they broke a rule they were deserving of a bad thing that happened. Often offenders play off of their fears of getting in trouble.
- There is personal information that is okay to share and not okay to share with peers, acquaintances, and strangers. This becomes very important if they use the internet.
- There are okay and not-okay touches and let them know what this means. Not-okay touching doesn’t just include their private parts but also includes any touch that they do not feel comfortable with. Their body is their own and they can set limits on touching.
- Even with smaller children, you can teach them the names of their private parts. They will be able to communicate more clearly if they know how to talk about their body, which may have medical benefits as well.
- Walk with them on the route to school or other routes they frequently take and show them safe places they can go for help. Give them permission to talk to people they don’t know or go to the door of a neighbor they don’t know. Tell them it’s ok to knock and ask for help. Taverns can also be “safe” places for children when they are in danger on the street. Teach them to go up to the bar and tell the person working there what is happening and that they need the worker to call 9-1-1 for them. Rules change in emergencies.
Get to know the homes and families of your child's friends. Make sure to share contact information in case of an emergency. It's important for you to know the people where your child is playing and share any rules or guidelines that you've established for your child.
Communication plays an important part in prevention. The more comfortable your child is talking about things that are part of their every day experience, the more they will be able to approach the difficult subjects. Be sure to take advantage of those teaching moments that happen when they hear something at school or on the news to inform them, but not to scare them.