The world is not a safe place. Every day we hear of a child or a teenager disappearing, kidnapped, or even worse, trafficked or abused. Crime is a constant in our societies despite the best efforts of authorities and the police. Consequently, it’s essential to understand how to protect yourself and your loved ones, and how to prevent your younger not-knowing-better children from being lured by strangers. Parents should educate their children of the dangers of the outside world so they’d be fully aware of whom to trust and whom to turn away from or seek help. Along side the specialized authorities, it is the responsibility of societies and families to implement protective measures, one of which is, of course, awareness.
The Classic Definition of Being Lured
You’re probably familiar with the scary scenario. A predator finds a child completely on their own, uses a tempting excuse that a young child cannot refute, then lures the child into a vehicle. The excuses are endless and are always reasonable enough for the child to justify their communication with a stranger. Imagine this: a stranger approaches a child with a smile and asks them for help to find his dog. The child complies because the cause makes sense to him. The child rides with the stranger in the hopes of helping him find his dog, and then the rest of the story is known. Is your child aware enough to see beyond the scheme?
Sexual predators are experts in the art of manipulation. They’d use charm and kindness and a smile to gain a child’s trust. Most children won’t be immune to their advances because they’re taught to be polite and nice to strangers, until of course it is too late. Young boys and girls (and often teenagers as well) can very easily fall preys to a well crafted trick to get their attention.
With the emergence of the digital world, the process has been made easier for the predators. Now, they don’t have to scheme and lay down plans and stalk their victim for days. All they need to do is reach for them online and sound friendly and inviting. The Internet opened the door for sexual predators to find their preys easily and approach them safely. If you think your child’s stay at home is a guarantee of their safety, you’re unfortunately wrong.
Who Is a Potential Predator?
The first step to protecting your family is to realize that anyone, practically anyone, can be a predator. With this conviction in mind, it’s vital to make sure your child is well aware of the potentiality of danger, and that no one, including friends or family members, is allowed to hurt them or touch them in an inappropriate manner.
Being lured into the vehicle or the house of a stranger is extremely dangerous, but being lured into trusting them is worse. Criminals today don’t have to be quick and violent. Sometimes they can get what they want with love and affection. If someone is too involved in your child’s life, you would want to pay attention. Teach your children that no matter how much they trust others, they should never allow them to cross certain limits.
Here are a few signs you should keep an eye for in people around your child:
- A sexual predator would show too much kindness and affection to your child specifically. They would be involved in their business and always helping them around to gain their trust. If they sound “too good to be true,” then they probably aren’t.
- A sexual predator would be a person with little empathy and little self-esteem. They’d be incapable to find intimacy in regular relationships and thus derive it from intimacy with a child.
- If they shower your child with gifts and attention, it could be suspicious.
- If they have issues controlling their anger in times of trouble.
- If they communicate with your child online for long hours and for no particular purpose.
The signs above are not definite and you might actually come across nice helpful people who care for your child with no bad intentions, but better safe than sorry. Always keep an eye for your child’s safety.
How to Protect Your Child from Being Lured
Teaching your child to be aware of their surrounding and to respond to attempts of getting them lured properly is a challenge. Because, first, you don’t want to scare your child into seeing a monster in everyone they deal with. And second, you don’t want them to trust the wrong adult.
The Internet will also make the task harder. Because not only would you have to monitor your child’s group of acquaintances, but you’ll still have to worry about the strangers that might pursue them online. It might seem that your child is surrounded by potential sources of danger, and in a way, they are. But there are also ways to protect them and make sure they are as safe as possible, either in the warmth of your own home or outside.
The first thing that all parents need to do is make sure the kids know that they should never talk to strangers. Whatever is the situation, if a stranger stops them in the street, they should never respond or listen. In case of emergencies, parents should devise a password with their children that when the parent needs to send someone to pick up the child, the child would require the password to start talking to them.
Another important point is to make sure your child is confident and not afraid. Fear would paralyze the child into silence and silence is very dangerous in such cases. Helping your child get confidence is a process. enrolling them in a self-defense sport is a good start. But also, establish a channel of communication in them. If they trust you, they’ll trust your word and they’ll run to you when there is trouble.
Establish a few basics that your child should know to heart in case they are being lured, attacked, or feeling threatened. These basics could include yelling and attracting the attention of others the second they feel uncomfortable with a stranger’s behavior around them. Also, it should be gently explained to them that their bodies are private and are not to be touched by others.
How to Protect Your Child from Being Lured on the Internet
As for the Internet, monitoring your child’s activities is vital. You should have a conversation with your children on what to look out for. Additionally, you should have the passwords of your younger children’s accounts. Educate them on possible sexual predators lurking on their activities and warn them against sharing personal information or their pictures.
Pedophiles and predators would use the Internet as an advantage. The free space would allow them to reach out for your kid. They might pose as another child or just be the older kind and attentive friend. If your child starts getting secretive over their online activities, that’s a cue for you to worry. Your child might be exposed to explicit material, or they might be falling prey to a criminal who wants to lure them either to kidnap them or to sexually exploit them. Teach your child to come talk to you when an online behavior confuses or scares them. Although you could manage to forbid any stranger’s approach to your younger children, older children and teens would have more space and freedom and are thus more approachable by predators. Make sure your teen trusts you enough to talk to you when a situation seems threatening. Reassure and comfort your children that their being exposed or lured into trouble won’t be punished if they come talk to you.
Having kids is a challenge and with it comes great responsibility. As a parent, part of your role is to protect and educate. Our children are lured by various temptations every day. How far they might go can rely, in a way or another, on us. Protecting a child from the dangers of the outside world is tough, especially now that the outside world is right in our rooms, inside our computers, or on our phones. Prepare your child for what is ugly so they never have to go through it. Raise aware, strong, and confident children who can yell “no” when they mean no. And finally, reassure them of your unconditional love, that nothing will ever take that away from them, that they can confide in you and tell you everything. Hopefully, they’ll never have to question that.