How to Protect Children from Perverts

15 Jul

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It is with a heavy heart that I write this today. Yesterday, a former teammate and classmate of mine from high school emailed me to let me know that our former high school soccer coach was arrested on charges of child pornography. At the time, she didn’t know that my ties with him went back as far as they do.

 

This man was my soccer coach when I was 8 or 9 years old on one of the first all girls soccer teams in my area. He was also a trusted camp counselor at the summer camp that I went to at the YMCA where I later became a camp counselor for 5 years. He was also my classic soccer coach for 2 years for a respected organization, as well as my high school soccer varsity coach for 2 years. He taught social studies at my high school, and I knew him. He was voted Coach of the Year in my home state last year after he coached my high school soccer team to a National Championship.

 

This was a man that myself and fellow teammates where supposed to trust. To be honest, I never trusted him, never respected him, and always thought he was creepy. I wasn’t surprised to hear this news, but I was still heartbroken.

 

Maybe it’s because I’m pregnant, or maybe it’s because I take care of 4 children whom I love more than life itself. Maybe it’s because my job is to put trusted babysitters and nannies (all adults) into families’ homes to take care of children. It is my job to make sure those kids are safe, but I can’t stop obsessing over how this could happen.

 

So, after hours of sitting in my office alone today and reading updated articles in between work, I have decided that instead of freaking out about it, I should write about how we can protect our children in situations like this. This is not intended to scare anyone, but I do believe knowledge is power.

 

  1. Never allow your children to be alone in a room with someone with the door closed.
  2. Before playdates, make sure that the parent you know will be home. Always meet both parents prior to sending your children there.
  3. Set clear boundaries with your children about where they can be touched on their bodies and by whom. Make sure they know that parts under a bathing suit are considered private parts.
  4. Always check your surroundings when in public. Places like public parks can seem like a safe place to be, especially if they are fenced in or in a good neighborhood, but they are actually common places that child molesters frequent.
  5. Make sure that you tell your children never to keep secrets from you. Reinforce that they should always tell you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable in any situation. It may end up being nothing, but err on the side of caution.
  6. Regulate your children’s access to a computer. Many of the people that parents need to worry about are not even people right in front of them. The internet can be a dangerous place, so make sure you set parental controls and check in often.
  7. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, be prepared to say “no.” Whether this be an answer to a playdate, a teacher, whatever. Do not be afraid of what others will think. It is more important to protect your children than to make sure no one gets upset with you.
  8. Be wary of your babysitters. Make sure they don’t make your children feel funny or uneasy.

 

 

Of course, these are only a few ways we can protect children. Here are a few facts on the subject:

 

 

Most abuse happens in the home.

 

Physical force on children is rarely used by pedophiles.

 

49% of abusers of children under age 6 are family members.

 

Pedophilia is very rare among females.

 

90% of all sexual assaults against children are committed by someone the victim knows.

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