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Safety Tips for Parents

  • Know everything you can about your children's activities and their friends. Monitor children's activities and participate with them. Don't allow children to play alone in isolated areas.
  • Teach your children about strangers AND to be aware of unusual behavior in people they know. Teach them to listen to their feelings and that it is okay to say no if any adults (including family members) ask them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Teach your children to refuse anything from strangers, including money, gifts or rides. Know where new items come from.
  • Teach your children how to safely answer the phone if they are at home alone such as stating the adult in the house is "unavailable" to come to the phone.
  • Teach your children to keep a safe distance from strangers and not to give strangers directions for help, finding lost pets, etc. Adults need to get help from other adults.
  • Teach children to use the buddy system when walking home from school, sports activities, etc. The age-old rule of there is safety in numbers is a primary safety precaution.
  • Use secret codes with your children (for use to positively identify each other or to ask for help).
  • Teach your children (including teens) to check first with you before going anywhere. Children need to let parents know where they are going, how they will get there, who will be going along with them, and when they will return home.
  • Develop a family plan stressing where to meet if lost, when you are away from home. Do not have children meet you in the parking lot. Inside the store, shopping mall or amusement park are much safer places to meet. Teach them their phone number AND area code.
  • Do not place your children's names on their clothing or on the outside of their possessions.
  • Teach your children to say NO to anyone attempting to touch them on the part(s) of their bodies covered by a swimming suit.
  • Teach your children to say NO, then GET AWAY, and TELL SOMEONE if a person bothers them.
  • Join with other concerned parents to set up safety systems for your neighborhood.
  • Teach your children about appropriate and inappropriate secrets and that some secrets have to be told if children and parents are to be kept safe.

Provided by SCAN (Stop Child Abuse & Neglect), a program of the National Children’s Advocacy Center

The following five safety tips from RAINN focus on practical things parents can do to protect children from sexual abuse.

 1. Talk often with your child and set a tone of openness. Talking openly and directly will let your child know that it’s okay to talk to you when they have questions. If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, make time to listen and talk to them.

 2. Teach your child key safety principles. For instance:

  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • If your child is uncomfortable or if someone is touching them, s/he should
    tell a trusted adult immediately.
  • Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to
    them in ways that make them uncomfortable that it shouldn’t stay a secret.

3. Empower your child should know that s/he has the right to speak up if they are uncomfortable, or if someone is touching them. It’s okay to say “no” even to adults they know and family members.

 4. Implement Internet safety protocols, and parental controls through platforms such as the Google Family Safety Center. Work with older children to set guidelines for who they can talk to online, and what information can be shared. For instance, be cautious when leaving status or away messages online and when using the "check-in" feature on Facebook or Foursquare.

 5. Educate yourself about the warning signs of childhood sexual abuse. Know what to look for, and the best way to respond.

 Provided by RAINN: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network 

Discipline effectively. Remember that kids will be kids. Children can be loud, unruly and destructive. They will break things, interrupt telephone conversations, track mud through the house, not pick up their toys or clean their rooms, struggle over eating their vegetables or pester routinely. Children will inevitably do things that may make their parents feel irritated, frustrated, disappointed and angry. Changing a child’s behavior is not easy. However, children should not be disciplined through violence. It is better to deny children privileges when they do something unacceptable, as well as reward them when they do something good. This teaches children that there are consequences for their actions.

 Regain control. Child abuse is a symptom of having difficulty coping with stressful situations. If you feel you are losing control, ask someone to relieve you for a few minutes. Then try these tips:

  • Count to 10.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Phone a friend.
  • Look through a magazine or newspaper.
  • Listen to music.
  • Exercise.
  • Take a walk (first make certain that children are not left without supervision).
  • Take a bath.
  • Write a letter.
  • Sit down and relax.
  • Lie down.

Get help. Support is available for families at risk of abuse through local child protection services agencies, community centers, churches, physicians, mental health facilities and schools.

 Excerpt from information provided by the American Humane Association.

 If you feel that you are in the midst of a crisis, call the Behavioral Health Response Hotline at 314-469-6644 or 800-811-4760 (for residents of Eastern Missouri counties) or 911.

  • Openly discuss all aspects of the Internet with your child as they age. Discuss BOTH the positive and the negatives. Help them to think critically about their actions online.
  • Place the computer in a family area of the household and do not permit private usage.
  • Enter into a safe-computing contract with your child about his or her use of these sites and computer use in general.
  • Discuss digital citizenship with your child: if you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t post it online!
  • Know each of your child’s passwords.
  • Encourage the use of privacy options on all social networking sites.
  • Often children and their friends have accounts linked to one another, so it’s not just your child’s profile and information you need to worry about.
  • Monitor what your child’s friends are posting regarding your child’s identity.
  • Enable Internet filtering features if they are available from your Internet Service Provider.
  • Install monitoring software or keystroke capture devices on your family computer that will help monitor your child’s Internet activity.
  • Know what other access your child has to computers and devices like cell phones and PDAs.
  • An interactive educational safety resource is available for children ages 5 to 17 at
  • An educational safety resource is available for parents and caretakers at

Adapted from information provided by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Provided by the National Children’s Advocacy Center

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing)
  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette burns or immersion burns
  • Unexplained fractures, lacerations or abrasions
  • Swollen areas
  • Evidence of delayed or inappropriate treatment for injuries
  • Self destructive
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive - behavioral extremes
  • Arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to be at home
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents)
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body
  • Bizarre explanation of injuries
  • Wary of adult contact


Physical Neglect

  • Abandonment
  • Unattended medical needs
  • Consistent lack of supervision
  • Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
  • Lice, distended stomach, emaciated
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness, falls asleep in class
  • Steals food, begs from classmates
  • Reports that no caretaker is at home
  • Frequently absent or tardy
  • Self destructive
  • School dropout (adolescents)
  • Extreme loneliness and need for affection


Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse may be non-touching: obscene language, pornography, exposure – or touching: fondling, molesting, oral sex, intercourse

  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain, swelling or itching in genital area
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Bruises or bleeding in genital area
  • Venereal disease
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Excessive seductiveness
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Massive weight change
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents)
  • Inappropriate sex play or premature understanding of sex
  • Threatened by physical contact, closeness


Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse may be name-calling, insults, put-downs, etc., or it may be terrorization, isolation, humiliation, rejection, corruption, ignoring

  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical development
  • Substance abuse
  • Ulcers, asthma, severe allergies
  • Habit disorder (sucking, rocking, biting)
  • Antisocial, destructive
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play)
  • Passive and aggressive - behavioral extremes
  • Delinquent behavior (especially adolescents)
  • Developmentally delayed

Adapted from the Educator’s Resource Manual on Child Abuse, 3rd Edition.

Provided by the National Children’s Advocacy Center

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