Teach them that they CAN say no to an adult. Role play how they might do that. One day, your words could save your child from harm.
The 14th Day for Daniel will take place this Friday, 26 October. It is Australia's largest child safety awareness day, and a great reminder to have a conversation or two with your children. Just talk. It's that simple.Kidspot caught up with Holly Brennan, CEO of the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, to discuss her top five tips for keeping your children safe.
Holly said there's no magical protective 'thing' that parents can do to ensure their kids stay safe. What she does promote, however, is openness.
"All the research shows that if you're a family that can be together, talk together and can talk about a range of topics, you're actually increasing your children's safeness," Holly told Kidspot.
This important point ties in with the Morcombe Foundation theme for this year's Day for Daniel, which is "Talk early, talk often, keep talking."
Holly said we should talk directly to our children about the issue of being safe in a positive and protective way.
"Don't scare children, don't talk about monsters, don't talk about strangers all the time, and don't reinforce issues like abduction all the time," Holly said.
This means we must make sure our children are confident they are not going to get into trouble by speaking out to us, while not scaring them off in the process.
"It's being really positive and open that there are so many things you can do to help be safe, but the number one thing that your children need to know is that they can talk to you about being safe," she said.
You need to cover a wide range of topics for a child to have a full repertoire, but the main thing is to keep things practical and relevant to their own life.
Holly said talking about feelings and bodies including private parts and using correct anatomical names is really important.
"Even if your home language is different, that's OK," she said, "you still need to use the words, 'nipples', 'vagina', 'vulva', 'penis', 'anus' and 'testicles'."
"Research backs this up," Holly said.
"For people who may be perpetrators looking for children to harm against, they're less likely to communicate with children who have obvious strategies in these areas."
That is, those children who are better able to identify and articulate issues relating to their own bodies are less targeted than those who cannot.
Holly said all children should know about the three Rs. They are: Recognise, React and Report.
One example Holly provided about recognising signs within their own bodies is asking your child something like this:
"If you're watching a scary movie, or if we're going to the doctor, or if you think you're going to miss the bus, what would your body do?"
By giving examples like the way our tummy feels when we go on a ride, we can help our children recognise feelings within their own bodies.
"Your body is really amazing and it gives you these clues that you actually want to recognise what your body's telling you and then you react and report," she said.
By teaching our children to recognise feelings and understand their own bodies and their reactions to fear and uncomfortable situations, we can help protect them even when we're not around.
It's not something any parent wants to consider, but if your child does disclose that they have been harmed in some way, Holly said it is important to remain calm and listen.
"You need to believe and tell them that you want them to try and help them feel safe," Holly said.
"A lot of parents and carers do not want to believe, because 90 percent of children are harmed by someone the child knows and someone you know. So it's really important to take out that being shocked factor."
"Try not to have your emotions as the first emotion," Holly said. "They're important, but you need to keep them for later because you need to keep calm, you need to listen and believe and try and help them to be safe."
"For many children, they'll tell five times before someone listens, because they'll test it out," Holly said.
It is really important that as parents, we listen and believe our children in those first moments when they're seeking our help.
And after everything, Holly said parents should always seek help if they are faced with this situation.
"It's really traumatising for an adult to learn something has happened to their child," Holly said.
So if this is you, remember to look after yourself so you can better support your child.
When asked to provide an example about how we could start the conversation with our kids, Holly suggested we look for a teachable moment. This could be on television, in the newspaper, on social media or just something in everyday life.
"Try and relate it to something that makes sense to them," she said.
As an example, say you're watching your favourite Aussie soap alongside your child and something happens that you can relate to being safe.
Holly said she would ask, "Who would you talk to if you felt scared or worried?"
Have a discussion with your child and ask them questions in a 'what if' type scenario.
Then Holly explained how you can "extend it" by changing the situation and the setting. Ask "what if you're at school?" or "what if this happens on the bus?"
"There's a really easy activity you could actually do where people use their hands," she said.
"Draw around your hand and try to come up with five different people in different types of locations or roles."
See if your children can think of five people they can talk to in five different scenarios, representing each of the five fingers on the drawing.
"A lot of children would never say no to an adult," Holly said, reminding us of the importance of building our children's problem-solving skills and role-playing what if scenarios.
Who knows? This may come in handy for them one day.
It's a skill your child hopefully will never need, but is it worth them not having it if they really do need it one day?
Original article written by Claire Haiek and published on Kidspot: https://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/parenthood/parenting-style/5-simple-ways-to-protect-your-children-online-and-in-real-life/news-story/89fff89f85e49f04ad804f3650691290
The Day for Daniel, a National
Day of Action raising
awareness of Child Safety,
Protection & Prevention