Bubble Wrapping Kids Against Predators
Did you know that more than 1 in 10 of our children will be sexually abused before turning 18, and that the median age of a victim is 9 years old? In this article, child safety expert Alli Neal, Co-Founder of Atlanta-based nonprofit Revved Up Kids answers questions and dispels myths about this issue.
(1) What are some of the biggest myths about child sexual abuse? Alli says that there are a number of myths that Revved Up Kids works hard to dispel, here are a few:
“First, most people believe that it will be a stranger who sexually abuses their child. In fact, more than 90% of the time, predators know their victims. We need to get away from the fear of the white van driving through our neighborhood, and we need to focus on the people in our children’s inner circles.”
“Second, people tend to believe that it won’t happen to their child. In fact, sexual abuse does not discriminate; it happens to children of all races, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds.”
“Third, people tend to believe that they would know if their child was being sexually abused. In fact, predators are master manipulators and they do an exceptional job at silencing their victims. Most children never disclose their abuse, and the ones who do often wait years, even decades, before telling anyone.”
“Fourth, people avoid talking with their children about this issue because they think it will scare them. In fact, the easiest target for a predator is the child who doesn’t know anything about predators. Children who learn about predators from a very early age are much better equipped to respond effectively if they are ever approached.”
(2) What should parents be doing to keep their children safe? “There are a lot of simple things that parents can do, and the most important of those is to maintain an open and continual dialogue about sex and sexual abuse,” says Alli. “From the time your child is learning to label body parts, you can be talking about sexual abuse in an age appropriate way.” Alli reminds us about the learning reinforcement young children need on all subjects: “How often do you remind your child to say please and thank you? Child sexual abuse is the same thing, you can’t dust off the conversation once a year when a story hits the news, you need to be constantly talking about safety with your children.”
(3) If there was just one other thing parents could do, what would it be? “Always trust your instincts. Parents need to trust their instincts about people and situations, and if something doesn’t feel right, they need to protect their children. Sometimes, on the surface, a person may seem perfectly likeable, but you just have this little feeling that something isn’t right. I have learned to trust my gut about all people, and if somebody gives me a weird vibe, I don’t allow my children to be alone with that person. Your children should be given permission to trust their instincts as well. If your child is not comfortable hugging Uncle Albert, then you should not force it. Teaching your children from an early age that they control their bodies and their personal space will give them the confidence they need to stand up for themselves if a predator is trying to coerce them. Teach them to act on their instincts, too. Maybe your six-year-old is terrified to go into the pool. You know it’s perfectly safe, and a lot of parents would just grab their child and force them into the water; but that teaches the child to override instinct with intellect. Instead, support your child in that moment, ask what you can do to make them feel safe.” says Alli. “One other thing about instinct. I have heard dozens of stories from people who have been violently attacked, and every time someone tells me their story, I ask them if they had any feeling that something was wrong before they were attacked. No one has ever told me that it came completely out of the blue. They always say that their internal alarms were going off and they didn’t take action because they didn’t want to be impolite. In all of our training sessions, we teach that safety always trumps politeness.”
Revved Up Kids provides training programs for children, teens, parents, and youth-serving organizations. Learn more at www.revvedupkids.org or call 678.526.3335.
Are you confident that the kids in your life can recognize, avoid and escape predators? Help Revved Up Kids keep all Atlanta children safe by connecting us with child-serving groups.
Atlanta-based nonprofit Revved Up Kids provides training programs for children, teens, parents and youth-serving organizations. Revved Up Kids partners with area schools and PTAs to provide training seminars for parents and training workshops for students. Descriptions of programs are below:
Seminars for Parents
Revved Up Kids offers seminars for parents that work well as a morning coffee or lunch and learn session in school settings. These seminars can also be delivered in the evening. Seminar fee is $150, however, Revved Up Kids offers a limited number of free seminars each year to groups of more than 15 adults. There are two seminar formats available:
CHILD SAFETY TIPS FOR PARENTS
Designed for parents of children in K-8th grade, this seminar helps parents protect their children from predators by providing eye opening information about who predators are, how they operate, and how to keep children safe. Learn about predators’ grooming methods and how they select their victims, learn how to identify predators in your midst, and learn how to incorporate simple safety rules within your family to protect your children.
#SOCIALSAVVY FOR PARENTS
Internet safety is on everyone’s radar, but many parents feel inadequately equipped to protect their children online. This seminar provides eye opening information about children and their online world. It identifies five key areas of risk (addiction/cyber-bullying/privacy-reputation/inappropriate content/predators) and provides practical action steps that parents can take to keep their children safer. This seminar is suitable for all audiences, but more applicable to families whose children are active on the internet.
Training for Children and Teens
Revved Up Kids offers a single session self-defense workshop that works well in a school setting. It is 45-60 minutes in length and often delivered during PE classes. This workshop teaches children who predators are and how they operate, and equips them to defend themselves and escape to safety if someone is trying to hurt or take them. Full force self-defense tactics practice is incorporated into this workshop.
Revved Up Kids offers additional training formats in two or three hour settings that can be taught to groups outside of school hours. The two hour “Safety Day” format is designed for groups of up to 100 participants in a session and has been utilized by groups as a fundraiser.
To discuss Revved Up Kids training programs for your group, please call us at 678.526.3335 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.