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Services Personal Safety & Community Awareness Information for Parents and Caregivers

PSCA: Information for Parents and Caregivers

As responsible, caring adults we teach our children many kinds of safety. Because of this, children become aware, confident and secure in the ways that they can protect themselves.  Personal safety can, and should, be approached in the same straightforward manner. 

Here are some ideas to help you to feel more comfortable as you talk with your child and establish your family’s rules for personal safety. 

 

1. Talk to your child about personal safety as you talk about other types of safety.

  • “Just like fire safety rules keep you safe around fire, personal safety rules keep you safe around other people.”

 

2. Repeat simple personal safety guidelines often to reinforce understanding.

  • “Your body belongs to you. You decide who touches you and how you are touched.”
  • The Touching Rule: “No one should touch or look at your private body parts except to keep you clean and healthy” . (As children grow and no longer need hygiene assistance, the “clean” portion may be removed from this rule.)
  • “Your private body parts are the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit or underwear.”
  • If someone breaks the Touching Rule, say “NO”, get away, and tell a grown-up.
  • It is never your fault if someone tries to break the Touching Rule.
  • Never keep secrets about touching.

 

3. Establish your own set of family rules for personal safety.

  • “You can ride in a car with ___ or ___, but not with anyone else without asking first.”
  • “You can give a high-five or a handshake if you don’t want to give a hug.”
  • “You can say “NO” to anyone who breaks one of our family safety rules.  I will back you up!”
  • Help your child identify the trusted adults in whom they could confide if faced with a problem

 

4. Play “What If?” games to practice decision making.

  • “What if someone we know really well (give examples such as the babysitter, friend, family member) touches you in a confusing way and asks you to keep it a secret?”
  • “What if you and I get separated at the store?”
  • “What if you are playing (even if it is someplace you aren’t supposed to play) and someone tries to get you in their car?”
  • “What if someone offers you money or something else that you really want to break one of our family rules?”

 

5. Help your child develop confidence and assertiveness skills.  Have fun together practicing verbal and non-verbal responses.

  • Stand tall, maintain eye contact, use a firm voice.
  • “I don’t want to do that!”
  • “No! Stop! That is not OK!”
  • Get away.
  • Keep telling until you get help.  
  • Disscuss personal safety with your child from diapers to college.  This is a lifelong conversation.
  • Keep in mind that over 90% of offenders are not "strangers" to their victim. Children must be taught that safety rules apply to EVERYONE at ALL times.
  • A parent or primary caregiver is the best person for a child to speak with about personal safety.  The same message should be reinforced by others in the family support system. The child’s ability to comprehend and practice safety skills is directly affected by development, age, and maturity.  Tailor the message accordingly.
  • We all have intuition that should be cultivated and paid heed.  Listen to your’s and validate your child’s.
  • Help your child develop an appropriate vocabulary for the parts of their body.  Children who have learned only slang or family terms might be too embarrassed to ask for help or could have a difficult time being clearly understood.
  • Never force your child to hug or kiss anyone.  Giving children control over their bodies reinforces the message that they have the right to determine how, when, and by whom they are touched.  High-fives and handshakes are also safe expressions to show affection and can be an alternative to hugs/kisses.
  • Give your child permission to be ugly and impolite if they are uncomfortable.  Practice yelling from their toes when they need to get the attention of a safe adult.  Do not let fear of rudeness compromise safety.
  • Be aware of your child’s surroundings and those in their world. This includes knowing complete names, addresses, phone numbers, family and acquaintances of anyone with whom they spend time. 
  • Reach out to the resources available to you in your community, such as the Child Protection Center and its staff of experts, for information and support. 
  • Remember, communication is key to personal safety.  WHAT IS MENTIONABLE IS MANAGEABLE !

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Thought of the Week

Education is the most powerful weapon that can be used to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela

Child Protection Center believes that informed children are safer children. Education is empowering. Advocate for personal safety education in your child's school.

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Child Protection Center, Inc.
720 South Orange Ave.
Sarasota, Florida 34236
Phone: 941.365.1277
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Venice, Florida 34293
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