As parents, we have so much to do. We are disciples to our children, teachers who are supposed to show them how to act, dress, and carry on. But not all parents are good parents. I said it. No one likes to think they're that parent, but we can all be at times, and there are clearly a lot of parents who are failing as teachers because there isn't a day on the news that is free of child molestation, child murders, child abuse, child abduction, the sale of hundreds of girls, gang rapes on girls, and kids who decide to bully or kill other kids. There are some seriously clueless parents out there who say "Not my kid" when clearly it is their kid. There's a lot we all need to do as parents and it starts before birth, but any time you can become aware and involved is better than not at all. There's a lot we parents have to worry about, and sadly, keeping them safe is the scariest of all. Keeping a child safe means more than telling them to keep away from the hot stove, or not talk to strangers when it suddenly turns out the babysitter is drugging and abusing your child, when your child can't even take the bus or go potty without being attacked and then martyred for it. The way the world is treating women and boys is disgusting. Slavery is not dead because we are still selling people for their bodies, and using drugs to do it. This is not just in other place, but even in your home town this is happening.
As a parent, I can't help but feel pain and worry for my own daughter, and to cry for another parent who has just lost their own. It certainly seems like we are a doomed society if after all this time in existence we still treat our own species this way . . . and it's getting worse! I have no immediate solutions, but I really needed to share some of this dread and outrage. Parents who have lost their child or had a child experience an awful trauma, I am so deeply sorry to you, and I can not begin to feel the rage that must ache in your heart every day.
I've come up with some things we can all do to foster the good in our own kids, and try to keep them safe. Here's my list of ways to keep your child safe, no matter their age (because they're always your child).
1. Get Snipped: Parents get tired and burnt out, but if you're burnt out as soon as you even see your kid, that's a red flag. If you don't care for kids but love the party lifestyle do us all a favor and get snipped. You shouldn't have kids. Stop having kids who end up in a home without love, which may lead to some other serious issues and possibly deaths.
2. Try a Date Night In Some of the Time: I know a date night or "me" time can keep a person sane, but try a date night in after the kids go to bed, or switch off with your partner for nights out after the kiddo's bedtime. If your kid is like mine and has a crazy schedule then you'll need to change the sleep schedule first.
3. Install a Security System: Yes, in your home, right now! I read about a creeper who broke into a family's home and molested a 5-year-old while they slept. I like to think a security system like a really mean dog or two and some alarms that alert the police would have helped. This is also a reason to co-sleep and keep the door locked. But at the very least, have a security system!
4. Talk to your child: Talk about strangers, but more importantly, talk about their body and what makes them feel comfortable. Teach them that it is OK to voice their opinion and say "NO!" to an adult if the adult is violating their feelings of a safe environment, or touching their body in places you have discussed are a no-no. Don't ever tell a child that they have to hug anyone if they don't want to. You don't want your kids to think forced affection is something they have to do, but rather something you do when you want to.
5. Buy Cameras: Lots and lots of cameras (and know the laws for recording in your state). Even if it's a preschool or daycare, or family member babysitting, whatever, ask to put your own camera up. They WILL be offended, but if they have nothing to hide they should just deal with it so that you can be sure your child is safe. If your childcare provider isn't willing to let you use your own video system to watch your child only (with no recordings of other children), and doesn't allow for random checks then don't go there. I understand home day cares locking their doors so strangers don't come in, but then you should have a key or know the code of the day to the keypad so you can enter the home to get your child at any time. At least that's how i think it should be.
6. Teach Self-Defense: Teach your child how to call 9-11, yell for help, step on someone's foot, or run like the wind. Maybe even sign them up in a martial arts class. Pack pepper spray! Teach your child it's OK to fight back, but not OK to start a fight. The rules of freedom (at least in the USA) are that your rights end when they begin to impose on anther's rights as a person. So, if you want to have sex with someone and they don't want to, you have no right to their body and should just leave whether you're married, unmarried, age 3, 10, or 50.
7. Stay With Your Child: When I was little, I would use a public bathroom alone at like age 6. Now, I'm not sure I would even let a teen go to the bathroom by herself. Walk with your child, don't let them walk around after school.
8. Speak Up: Don't feel comfortable with a school, friend, or situation? Then don't stick around. Harm to you or your child is not worth it.
9. Report: If you see any signs of abuse in a child, report it and talk to the parent. It could be a misunderstanding, or a parent who is burnt out and needs help, or it could be a very dangerous situation involving drugs. I've seen too many reports about adults on drugs who kill kids where CPS had already been to the home but for some reason the kids were still there. This is why the police should be involved and you have a duty to get nosy and follow up. your own kids are watching you and will learn to help people and not give up on them.
10. Be Careful What You Say (and DO): As always, your kids are watching you, and watching what you watch. There are a lot of parents who think it's fine to watch a PG-13 or worse movie around kids because they don't understand what's going on or aren't watching, but the kids are watching. Kids are always watching and learning, and so even if they don't know what's going on they'll learn, or make up their own story. If you're having a bad day, remember that the kids aren't a part of that and try to regroup. If you're feeling overwhelmed, look into a family help center through your city for parenting classes and counseling (sometimes it's nice to be heard).
11. Educate: teach your kids what's right and what isn't. Listen to how they react to social interactions in real life and TV shows. Commend them for good choices, and use the others as teaching moments to point out why something is hurtful or not OK, and why that matters. Raise an emotionally connected child, not a self-centered child. Inform him or her of what's going on in the news, and how they should treat a lady, or a boy.
12. Be Open: Let your child know that they can always talk to you, even if they did something you don't like. By listening and addressing the problem rather than acting mad that they told you, you'll foster your child's ability to talk to you about what's going on. This is important if your child is being bullied, or made to feel uncomfortable and then told by that person not to tell you, or that you would hate them if they told you.
13. Make a Password: I like the idea of making up a little password between you and your child so that if someone else tries to tell them that mom or dad said they're picking him or her up instead, your child can ask for the password. If the person doesn't know, or says the wrong one your child will know to run for help.
14. Raise an Observant Child: Help your child become aware of their surroundings so that suspicious cars or people who say they can be trusted but aren't normally at a certain location or environment are not trusted.
I'd love to add more to this list, so there may be a part 2 and 3 to this if I can help it, but I'd love your help! Please comment below or email me to share your suggestions (local or global) for keeping our kids safe.