Halloween is only a couple weeks away and keeping our kids safe is something we’re all concerned with. Do you only trick or treat on “trick or treat streets”? Do you avoid the “bad” neighborhoods or go door to door with your child being an active participant? Maybe you check the candy before the kids get any (taking your portion while you’re at it?!). A safety concern that needs to be looked at as well is protecting your child from sexual assault while they are out.
Growing up in the 80’s/90’s stranger danger was what was being taught. It was the idea that children were sexually assaulted by the creepy guy hiding around the corner or in the bushes ready to pounce on you at any given point. A lot has changed since that time and we now know that strangers aren’t really the ones we need to worry about when protecting our children against sexual assault. Statistically we know that children are most often sexually abused by someone they know; looking at the numbers 30% of cases are committed by family members, 60% by someone known to the family and only 10% is actually by strangers. It’s easy to wonder how this happens, how someone close to your family could harm a child within it and the answer is grooming, but that’s a whole other blog post!
So how do we protect our kids? Start by asking questions (and get annoying about it) – who are they going with, what adults will be around, where are they going, etc. If something seems off or doesn’t feel right stop them from going or tag along. When they get home talk to them about their night and if anything made them uncomfortable and do so being ready to really listen. A great book to read together now and any time is “I Said No!” by Zack and Kimberly King. It does a great job role playing different situations and saying no as well as getting to safety. We need to teach our children about sexual assault and what to do if they get in a situation where they don’t feel safe in order to protect them. If you’re interested in learning more about protecting kids a great resource is the Darkness to Light class offered at S.A.R.A.; to learn more call them at 970-867-2121.
By: Cassie Potts, MA, LPC.