We trust our children with various adults, be it our neighbour uncle, driver ‘anna’, helper ‘akka’, coach or tuition teachers. However, it is still a question whether we are vigilant when it comes to these adults. This article is not meant to induce fear, but to bring certain points to our attention.
- We need to get to know and regularly interact with those who spend time with our children, like their coaches, teachers, parents of their friends, et al. We could attend a few classes along with our children and pay attention to how the coach/teacher interacts with the child. It would be better to be with them in any classes or activities if the children are too young. Rather than trying to judge who could be a predator, it would be safer if your child is not left alone with any adult as much as possible.
- On most occasions, there aren’t any obvious outward signs that would help identify a person as a predator. These people work very hard to conceal their true nature. They are usually outgoing, friendly and helpful. However, it is our job as parents to be alert and look out for clues. If anything seems odd, we need to trust our instincts as it is always better to err on the side of caution.
- Spending time at places where our children spend most of their time would help us identify anything that may be bothering them. If we find our child withdrawn or uncomfortable after being with certain people, it’s important to explore the reason behind it.
- We should assure our children that if they are uncomfortable with the behaviour of any adult, who may be one of the family members, close friends, drivers, house help or tutors, they can approach us immediately and that they will be trusted and rather not blamed. If we see a child is consistently showing discomfort around a certain person, we shouldn’t force them to be with that person. They may be sensing something odd, that we aren’t aware of.
- Practice ‘no secrets kept from parents’ rule, no matter how exciting or ‘cool’ it has been made out to be by others. It could also be helpful for the family to have a “code word” which they can use if they want to phone or tell you in a gathering that someone made them feel unsafe.
- We can read up on child abuse awareness, prevention and identification. Just as we speak to our children on road safety, plug points, safety in the kitchen, let them see this just as another safety aspect so they do not feel intimidated.
- Educating the child is not enough. Showing a lot of vigilance as a parent and paying minute attention to the kind of circumstances that we are putting the child in, is important.