A couple days ago I wrote about a conversation--my friend aptly labeled it a momxplosion!--with my girls about how to remain safe in a world that is rife with violence towards women. I was angry about the recent thread #notokay on Twitter and was indeed exploding with reminders for my daughters ages 9 to 19 on how to stay safe. Following the blog I received a number of questions from other moms and I thought I would share a handful of tips that I sent them via private messages and conversations:
Never let a boy babysit (may seem harsh, but statistically it's just not a good idea, even if you have a boy--men/older boys do target younger boys too).
Always be with your kids in public bathrooms if they are young, and send them in pairs or more if they are older (I never send my girls to the bathroom alone in a public place--it's just not worth the convenience).
Only let them sleepover with very select people (watch out for friends with older brothers); many families don't allow sleepovers at all and that may be a wise choice.
Don't let them play behind closed doors no matter who's in there.
If you don't really know the kids that are with your kids make sure there are always three and not just two together--a kid is much less likely to bully another if one other person is present.
Don't drop your kids off with just one adult and no one else present (like at Sunday school, there should either be several kids or at least two teachers--something to ensure safety in numbers).
Grill your church staff or camp leaders or anyone else in charge of your kids about their child safety policies (I've made many a camp counselor miserable with all my questions, but it's worth it).
In my last post I wrote that I told my girls, "In general don't trust men," and I do realize that sounds out of bounds. The heart of what I meant is--don't automatically trust men. Simply because a man is in a position of authority or revered or trusted by others, doesn't mean he should be trusted by you. Be on guard not matter what.
Teach your kids not to keep secrets--here's why.
I know I alluded to it in the first bullet point, but it bears saying again: boys are assaulted too--moms of boys, you're not off the hook. All of this applies to them too.
One mom recommended this article, which is a helpful perspective on teaching boys to respect girls.
A final bullet: I think a huge factor in preventing assault is simply raising strong and confident women. Victims are often selected by predators based on how vulnerable they look. It's good to be training our girls in things such as making eye contact, firm handshakes, shoulders back, strong voices... things that all say "I know what I'm doing." Victims are often re-victimized because of the lack of confidence they carry.
Finally, below are two infographics from an organization called Darkness to Light. They reflect the problem of child safety in the US and give some background to what may seem like my paranoia. Honestly, I'm not paranoid. But I have had the privilege of being well trained and I deeply desire to pass it on to all the moms and dads in my sphere of influence.