There are no stereotypes of who might be a perpetrator. It is important to help your children build the skills and self-esteem that they need to help keep them safe while also giving them the tools to tell someone if they don't feel safe.
Tips when Talking with Your Children:
Always start discussions with your child at a general level. Keep in mind some facts about your child's cognitive and emotional development.
- Start by setting up a general frame work for discussion. For example: It's important that we talk about this every once in a while, because it's a way that I make sure you're safe and I can teach you ways to stay safe. Only your parents and your doctor are ever supposed to touch your private parts
- Ask open ended questions: Has anyone at school or camp or church ever touched you in a bad way, or made you do anything you didn't like? Tell me about that.
- Be calm and emphasize your acceptance: You can always tell me if something like that happens. I won't be mad at you.
- Emphasize safety: Who are other people you can tell who can keep you safe? If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, you can always tell me, or a teacher, and we will protect you.
- Reassure your child that if someone touches them inappropriately, it is never their fault; they are not to blame. Say you appreciate being told.
- Don’t encourage your child to embroider. Children can incorporate hints or possibilities into their beliefs about a specific situation. For example: avoid suggesting that something happened. e.g. “They did that, didn't they?”
- Be patient: This will be challenging if you are worried about your child. You may ask about a situation in a routine way, and they may not answer you right away. Be attentive for an answer some time after you ask about it.
DVCAC offers a Personal Safety Skills Program which educates school-aged children on how to recognize and respond to unsafe situations and to find a trusted adult to help. For more information about this program, please click here.
Tips for Effective Discipline
There is no single solution for our disciplinary concerns. However, there are some guidelines to constructive discipline. Constructive discipline allows a child to have positive self-esteem; disapprove of what a child does, not of what the child is.
- Praise your child's behavior.
- Be positive. Use "do" or "let's" instead of "no" or "don't" and use positive rather than negative suggestions or statements and give alternatives.
- Throw out rules you are unwilling to enforce.
- Develop realistic expectations. Don't expect too much from a young child.
- Do try and explain rules.
- Model behavior you expect.
- Avoid power struggles.
- Avoid harsh punishment. It encourages violent behavior and does not teach self-control.
- Consequences should be reasonable, prompt and related to the misbehavior for them to be effective.
If you find yourself angry, here are some ways to replace your anger and learn new feelings and more productive behaviors.
Breaking the Cycle of Child Abuse
If you have a history of child abuse, having your own children can trigger strong memories and feelings that you may have repressed. This may happen when a child is born, or at later ages when you remember specific abuse to you. You may be shocked and overwhelmed by your anger, and feel like you can't control it. But you can learn new ways to manage your emotions and break your old patterns.
Remember, you are the most important person in your child's world. It's worth the effort to make a change, and you don't have to go it alone. Help and support are available.
What Are Signs That Your Child Might Be At Risk On-line?
From the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation "A Parent's guide to Internet Safety"
- Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night. Children on-line are at the greatest risk during the evening hours. While offenders are on-line around the clock, most work during the day and spend their evenings on-line trying to locate and lure children or seeking pornography.
- You find pornography on your child's computer.
Pornography is often used in the sexual victimization of children. Sex offenders often supply their potential victims with pornography as a means of opening sexual discussions and for seduction. Child pornography may be used to show the child victim that sex between children and adults is "normal."
- Your child receives phone calls from individuals you don't know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don't recognize.
While talking to a child victim on-line is a thrill for a computer-sex offender, it can be very cumbersome. Most want to talk to the children on the telephone.
While a child may be hesitant to give out their home phone number, the computer-sex offenders will give out theirs. With Caller ID, they can readily find out the child's phone number.
- Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don't know.
As part of the seduction process, it is common for offenders to send letters, photographs, and all manner of gifts to their potential victims.
- Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.
A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit conversations does not want you to see it on the screen.
- Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.
Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship. They will accentuate any minor problems at home that the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after sexual victimization.
- Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.
Even if you don't subscribe to an on-line service or Internet service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a friend's house or the library. Most computers come preloaded with on-line and/or Internet software.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Communicating With A Sexual Predator Online?
Consider talking openly with your child about your suspicions. Tell them about the dangers of computer-sex offenders.
- Review what is on your child's computer. If you don't know how, ask a friend, coworker, relative, or other knowledgeable person. Pornography or any kind of sexual communication can be a warning sign.
- Use the Caller ID service to determine who is calling your child. Most telephone companies that offer Caller ID also offer a service that allows you to block your number from appearing on someone else's Caller ID. Telephone companies also offer an additional service feature that rejects incoming calls that you block.
- Monitor your child's access to all types of live electronic communications (i.e., chat rooms, instant messages, Internet Relay Chat, etc.), and monitor your child's e-mail.
Should any of the following situations arise in your household, via the Internet or on-line service, you should immediately contact your local or state law enforcement agency, the FBI, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:
Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography
- Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age
- Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 18
If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use. Unless directed to do so by the law enforcement agency, you should not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the computer.
What Can You Do To Minimize The Chances Of An On-line Exploiter Victimizing Your Child?
- Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
- Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.
- Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child's bedroom.
- Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software.
- Always maintain access to your child's on-line account and randomly check their e-mail/ social media accounts.
- Teach your child the responsible use of the resources on-line.
- Understand, even if your child was a willing participant in any form of sexual exploitation, that they are not at fault and are the victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility for their actions.
Instruct Your Children
- to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line;
- to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know;
- to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;
- to never download pictures from an unknown source;
- to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;
- that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.
Frequently Asked Questions
My child has received an e-mail advertising for a pornographic website, what should I do?
Generally, advertising for an adult, pornographic website that is sent to an e-mail address does not violate federal law or the current laws of most states. In some states it may be a violation of law if the sender knows the recipient is under the age of 18. Such advertising can be reported to your service provider and, if known, the service provider of the originator. It can also be reported to your state and federal legislators, so they can be made aware of the extent of the problem.
Is any service safer than the others?
Sex offenders have contacted children via most of the major on-line services and the Internet. The most important factors in keeping your child safe on-line are the utilization of appropriate blocking software and/or parental controls, along with open, honest discussions with your child, monitoring their on-line activity, etc.
Should I just forbid my child from going on-line?
There are dangers in every part of our society. By educating your children to these dangers and taking appropriate steps to protect them, they can benefit from the wealth of information now available on-line.
You can help stop domestic violence and child abuse.