Children are some of the most precious and valued members of our families and our communities. Because children cannot care for themselves and depend on adults, they are in a unique position that may leave them more susceptible to abuse. Individuals wanting to take advantage of a child’s trust and inherent naivety may expose them to abuse, exploitation, or abduction. Serving all members of the community, including children, is the top priority of the Post Falls Police Department.
Parents and Guardians in our community can assist the Post Falls Police Department by preparing their children for danger and helping them make the best decisions for their safety. Taking an active role in their lives is one of the best things parents and guardians can do to ensure healthy and positive development. Talking to your children about their safety is one of the most important things to do.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
As adults, we are responsible for the well-being and protection of our children. The responsibility adults have means that child sexual abuse is an issue for adults. Parents and guardians can make proactive choices that protect children and keep them safe from sexual abuse. Darkness to Light, a nonprofit “committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse”, provides a useful guide adults can use to help protect children (2013). At https://www.d2l.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/FINAL_D2L_5-STEPS-BOOKLET.pdf,the guide is useful and outlines the following five steps:
- Learn the facts: Know and understand what abuse is, the people who get abused, who does the abusing, and what the consequences of abuse are.
- Minimize Opportunity: Eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations to decrease the risk of abuse.
- Talk About It: Have open conversations with children about our bodies, sex, and boundaries
- Recognize the signs: Know the signs of abuse to protect children from further harm.
- React Responsibly: Understand how to respond to risky behaviors and suspicions or reports of abuse.
Another valuable resource is the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. At nsvrc.org, it provides tons of information and support for survivors, friends, family, advocates, and other supporters.
Preventing Child Abduction
“How can I stop this from happening to my child?” is one of the most common questions that parents ask when they hear about child abduction. It is important to talk to your children about stranger danger, or the risks that people they don’t know may pose, but it is equally important that parents discuss family member abductions. Kid Smartz a resource from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a great resource for parents looking to talk to their children about safety and child abduction. Kids Smartz offers the following tips to help parents prevent abduction:
- Know the routes your children take, especially to and from school. Most abductions occur between 2 pm and 7 pm
- Talk to your child’s school or daycare about its pickup policy. Ask them to call you immediately someone else tries to pick up your child.
- Use role-playing scenarios to help children learn how to recognize and respond to risky situations
- Teach your child the methods would-be abductors use
- Prepare children to act when you’re not with them. Children should know their full names, home addresses, telephone numbers, and how to dial 911.
- Keep a child identification kit. Include a recent color photo of your child and descriptive details such as age, height, and weight.
If your child ever becomes a runaway, lost or abducted, a Child ID kit can prove invaluable. A document such as Child ID will help the Post Falls Police Department or other authorities in their efforts to locate a missing child. A Child ID kit allows parents to write the physical characteristics, fingerprints, and DNA of their children, and is kept in a safe place where it is readily available should the child go missing. You can visit https://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/NCMEC_Child_ID_Kit_wc_FEMA_508.pdf for a free printout provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; parents have to fill the cards out and keep them updated.