Teach your child to Intercept unwanted touching.
Granny may think pinching her grandchild’s cheeks is a sign of affection and it is… but what if it makes your child uncomfortable?
If you force your child to accept unwanted touches so that they don’t hurt other people’s feelings, how do they set boundaries to protect themselves from paedophiles or people with bad intentions?
Help your child to protect their boundaries by teaching them to INTERCEPT unwanted touches.
Roll play: Reach toward your child and have them move both their hands to intercept your hand and hold your hand in both their hands and say, “Hi Gran (or whoever), it’s wonderful to see you, you are looking very well” and then move away a little as they let go of the hand.
This way Gran (or whoever) gets to feel the love without breaking your child’s boundaries
Teaching your child how to keep themselves safe should be ongoing. Create age appropriate games and give each game a name. The name will trigger the safety habit that you want your child to remember.
For example, the “Safe word” game. Have the child make up a safe word that you can give to friends who may pick your child up from school. Roll play the ” Safe word” game with your child: pretend that you have come to pick him/ her up from school. Make up a convincing reason for you having to pick up the child but pretend you don’t know the Safe word.
Your child should refuse to go with you. Play this game regularly using different stories and sometimes giving them the Safe word.
Does your child know the difference between a reward and a bribe? One of them could be very dangerous!
A reward is given for getting good marks at school, washing a person’s car or painting a wall for example. A bribe is given to get your child to keep a secret (not a happy one!) or to do something that is not safe or is against the boundaries that you and your child have set (see the FACT byte on boundary setting for more information).
One of your child’s best “weapons” against someone offering a bribe is to say that they are going to tell you.
Role-play various bribe situations with your child and help them to move away from you say “no thank you” politely and firmly. They should also say that they will tell. Remember that all roll play should be age appropriate.
Kidnapping? No, not in South Africa? In fACT, Kidnapping in South Africa is a common crime, with over 4,100 occurring in the 2013/2014 period, and a child going missing EVERY FIVE HOURS. It is not a highly publicized crime, which is a good thing because bad guys often get their ideas from the news (for example, the Crowbar gang has now become a popular theme for many groups of bad guys).
In Gauteng, police deal with over a dozen (sometimes as many as 20) kidnappings every month. This does not include abduction, where a child is taken by a parent or family member for safety reasons; kidnapping is when a child (or adult) is taken and held for ransom or sold for sex for slavery.
One of the ways best ways to prevent yourself or your child from becoming a victim of kidnapping is awareness. Teach yourself to look for suspicious people/vehicles, things that look odd or out of place.
At ACT Personal Safety, we divide “suspicious” into two easy to remember categories:
- Suspicions over time = “Didn’t I see that same car behind me yesterday?”
- Suspicious over distance = “Didn’t I see that person with his camera when I left the shop?”
Practice awareness and think about what you are going to do if you do spot something/someone suspicious.
Boundary setting for kids – Understanding boundaries and how to set them is vital to Personal Safety on every level. There are many forms of boundaries; an example of a physical boundary may be a wall or a door. A wall is a solid boundary and keeps everyone out but a door can be opened to people who you know are safe to let in. A personal boundary is something you can’t see but is just as real, especially when it is broken by someone.
An example of a Personal boundary may be something that is based on physical touch OR something based on feelings. An example of a physical touch boundary could be if a person you don’t know comes and puts their arm around you and you feel uncomfortable. An example of a feeling boundary may be when someone says something hurtful to you.
Next time you talk about safety with your child, explain what boundaries are and ask them to give you a few examples of the various types of boundaries (Physical and Personal) and talk about them and then roll play the different type of personal boundaries and what they can possibly do when their boundaries are broken.