Below are some guiding rules for parents as you care and protect your children.
1. Your child needs to know vital information from as early as age three that will help them and others if they are ever lost or missing. That information includes their first and last name, their phone number including area code, their street address, town, parish and country. They will also need to know how to call for help using 119 on a telephone.
2. Children must be able to identify their body parts. Help your child identify their private parts using the correct terminology. Be sure to identify breasts, vagina, penis, and buttocks. Your child must also know that these are private areas that their bathing suit covers. Explain that only mommy or daddy may touch them in a certain way, or while being groomed or being examined by a doctor with mom or dad present.
3. Check first. Young children do not have the capacity to make sound decisions about their personal safety. The check-first rule is based on the premise that adults or older children should not be giving children gifts, offering them rides or coercing them into their home or car, for any reason without checking with their mom, dad or a guardian first. Children must check first before accepting a gift or going anywhere with anyone, even if that person is someone known to them.
4. We all have that feeling inside that tells us what feels right and what feels wrong or uncomfortable. You must teach your child to trust and honour their inner voice or that ‘gut’ feeling. When you feel uncomfortable, do you trust that feeling and take action?
5. Listen to your children and encourage open communication. When a child’s feelings are continually cast aside, the child learns that the alarm inside of them is unimportant, so they eventually begin to disregard it altogether. This muffling of their inner alarm makes them more vulnerable to sexual predators who are masters at selecting children who have been taught not to communicate.
6. Some parents believe that they can teach good secrets and bad secrets. A child should not be expected to keep any secret at all. Simply explain to your child that secrets are against the rules. If you tell your child that there are good secrets and bad secrets, then you are giving them the responsibility of deciding whether or not they should keep a secret or tell, a responsibility they may not be ready to handle. The no-secret rule eliminates this problem and models healthy boundaries. You shouldn’t be telling your child something that needs to be kept secret in the first place.
7. Have your child practise screaming “NO!” and telling when someone does or says something that doesn’t feel okay.
Source: National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica