At some point, you will most likely feel comfortable leaving your child alone with older peers/adults that serve a role in your child’s life, whether it’s a rabbi, a tutor, a teacher, or a camp counselor. It’s not always so easy to get to know these people, and you may only see them for a few minutes at a time. Your child will most likely know them better than you.
Especially if the person is a teen or young adult, kids may automatically be in awe of this person because they’re older but not, “old” like their “uncool” parents. They may seek or take delight in attention from this person.
This situation gives predators an opportunity to groom a child out of view from their own parents and establish a relationship that the parents may know little or nothing about.
In order to empower and communicate with your children, ask them questions about their time spent with this person. Get to know how your child feels about this person and what they learn about them.
Let your child know they should tell you if this person ever:
- Initiates physical contact (with them or others) that seems inappropriate
- Talks about inappropriate issues (sex, alcohol or drugs)
- Gives them extra attention or seems to have a “favorite” student/athlete
- Communicates with your child (or other children) via text, call, or email
- Tries to spend time with your child outside the scope of their role
- Tries to lure or isolate your child from others or in an unfamiliar location
Let your child know that sometimes, people may try to seem “cool” or “loving” to trick a child into doing something that is wrong. If your children understand that you’re smart enough to know these people exist, they will be more likely to understand that this behavior is wrong, that you will believe them, and that it is the right thing to tell you.
By the time they’re pre-teens, most kids are wise enough to spot the “weird” or “pervy” adults. They may have a nickname for this person because they make quasi-inappropriate comments, or has some kids’ cell phone numbers and is “socializing” with their students/players like they’re “one of them.” Kids talk. But they might not be talking to us about it. As responsible adults, it’s our job to not just protect our own children, but also communicate with our children to help protect others.
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect