The legal definition of a sex offender is anyone who has been convicted of a sex crime such as rape, child molestation, child pornography possession and/or production along with sexual harassment. It is important to remember that sex offenders are people you and your children know and are living and working in the community. A child can be lured by a sex offender who is trying to convince your child it is important that they go with them. It is very important to understand that your child may not report to you if they have been molested because of tactics that child molesters use to silence the child can make them very afraid of getting in trouble or in some cases because of a threat to people in the child’s life they would be willing to protect.
Sex offenders are classified into different levels, depending on the level of danger they present to the community and their risk of repeating the offense. A “Level One” sex offender is likely a first time offender, who presents a low risk of repeating their offense in the future. A “Level Two” offender presents a moderate risk of repeating the offense and they may have committed within the community they live in. “Level Three” sex offenders pose the greatest threat to the community because they have repeated the crime many times and are very likely to do it again.
If it were possible, sex offenders would come with labels or some kind of identification that both you and your child could use to recognize them; however, this is not the case and it is important to stay informed about safety tips that your family will need to keep sex offenders from seeing your child as an opportunity to offend.
Teach your child all your contact details~Every child needs to know your full name, their address, telephone number with area code, as well as your work phone number. This information needs committed to memory in case they need to state who they are and that they need help.
Always be aware of where your child is and who their friends are including contact numbers and addresses~The whereabouts of your child is the first thing that every parent should know to protect them from sex offenders and child molesters. Develop this habit as a family. Children need to always tell you where they are going and if parents and caregivers do the same it sets a good example. Older children may resist this, but they are equally at risk so encourage them to inform you whenever they leave your home and stress it is important that family members work together to keep the whole family safe and out of respect for each other help everyone to avoid the worry and stress about not knowing where family members are and if they are OK. Always present this as an issue of respect, not authority.
Know the different kinds of strangers that your child can be safe with~Not all strangers pose a threat and certainly are NOT sex offenders. It is important to talk to your child about the different types strangers and what a “safe stranger” is so they understand who they can talk to if they are lost or need help. Uniformed clerks at the mall and uniformed police officers are the ideal people that can help a child. Practice how to pick these people out with your child. Most police officers, who are not in the middle of a police call are more than willing to talk with you and your child to help you ‘show’ a child how to approach them. They understand that for a child, approaching and talking with an adult that they do not know in a uniform is intimidating. We encourage you to seek out an officer and have them talk with your child in a calm and non-emergency situation.
The buddy system is always better than being alone~Encourage your child to always be accompanied by a friend whenever they are out in the community and teach them it is important that they look out for each other. There is more safety in numbers and potential child molesters rarely approach children in groups.
Have a password for you and your child to build trust~Createe a key word that you and only very few adults in your social circle share. The keyword is how your child knows only a person with this information is safe to take direction from in your absence, change family plans last minute or pick them up from school in an emergency situation. The word should be simple and clear for your child to memorize.
Having a keyword in place will help kids know what to do even when they may be caught off guard. This can be very confusing for a child as this adult is certainly not a stranger so it is crucial, without scaring your child to have a password or code word that only a few safe adults in their life know. This can be helpful if you have a family emergency where someone out of the ordinary must pick up your child. It is a safe way for your child to know it is OK they go with them and that you have already talked about how if circumstances or events occur there is always a safe adult that will help them. Of course, if your password becomes known you will have to change it but for young children, this can be confusing so work together as a family to keep it protected.
Teach your child about tactics that a sex offender will use~Behaviors such as an unknown vehicle pulling up to your child from nowhere, or strangers giving them gifts should set off alarms in your child’s awareness. They should also know the subtle cues that a sex offender will use because, in many cases, violence will not be exercised. The best way to do this is through talking, role modeling and without fear going over these scenarios often as children may forget over time.
Potential sex offenders and child molesters never need see or meet your child as they also exist online, read our safety suggestions for Internet Safety
No parent ever wants their child to be in danger, let alone in a high-risk situation with a potential sex offender so plan, practice and talk about these tips in your family. Using these suggestions will give you some assurance of your child’s safety and you can be confident you are raising a responsible, courageous child.