A Child who keeps secrets … an easy target for a predator!

secretsDo you want to know all of your child’s secrets? Some parents would say “yes” others may say “no”. We certainly don’t need to know everything our children do and say throughout their lives, however, we feel it is extremely important to teach children about the issue of secrets. Teaching children the difference between a good secret and a bad secret is not difficult and it is a must to keeping our children safe.  Predators (could be a family member, coach, babysitter etc. – 90% of the time a child is harmed it is by someone they know) want your child to be able to keep a secret. A predator may start with a small secret and if your child keeps it, they now know they have an easy target. We want all children to be off limits to predators and one way we can stop them is by teaching our children the difference between a good secret and a bad secret. Have you ever had this conversation with your child? If not…it is not to late…sit down and discuss this:

“There are good secrets and there are bad secrets. A good secret feels good to know and has a time limit. Ask: What is an example of a Good Secret? (You can also use the word surprise) A surprise party, a special gift you helped pick out for your brother, something the team is going to give the coach at the end of season. One thing these all have in common is that they have a beginning and an end. At some point everyone is going to hear about the secret. Ask your child – How does a good secret feel to you?”  Some responses: feels good, safe, comfortable, excited, special, and happy.
“A bad secret is something that you know inside but might be afraid to tell, feel worried, confused, scared, and nervous. Tell your child that anytime you have any of those types of feelings (butterflies in the stomach) that is the exact kind of secret that you NEED to tell – even if you promised not to.” Tell your children, “No one should ever tell you to keep a secret from us,” or if someone tells you to keep a secret and you are confused by what they tell you or it has to do with your safety or the safety of someone else to NEVER keep that secret and report to us immediately.”  Examples of a bad secret: Your friend tells you that her brother hits her and she makes you promise not to tell; your babysitter has friends over and gives you extra time up and makes you promise not to tell; your swim coach gives you a special present saying you are his favorite and that it is a special secret; your friend’s Uncle touches you on your privates and makes you promise not to tell.
The concept and dilemma children need to work through regarding secrets is very complicated, here is an example: Your babysitter asks you to play a secret game – she will give you a special present but you are not allowed to tell your parents. This is a tough decision for a child. A child will be:
–        Curious about the secret game
–        Want to please their babysitter
–        Want a gift
–        Feel “special” that the babysitter wants to play with them
What if the child loves the babysitter and knows if she tells her parents the secret they will be mad and the babysitter won’t be allowed to come back….all really hard consequences for children to consider.
Thirty – 50% of offenders are adolescents (we know…this is a tough stat to take) and much of their offending happens in babysitting situations so it is extremely important that you discuss this with your children to keep them safe. Many celebrities have come out about their own sexual abuse experiences and many of them happened while in babysitting situations.
Recommendations:   Have discussions with your children on a regular basis by finding teachable moments (TV shows often offer a lot for discussion) ask your children, “Do you think that is a good secret or a bad secret?” “Why?” Remember this should be ongoing discussions, please don’t think this is a one-time conversation and it’s covered.
  • Family policy: NO secrets
  • Discuss “What if” scenarios to see how your children would handle specific situations. This is really important….children are faced with difficult situations and if you have not talked with them about how to navigate through to the safest and smartest choices they will be unsure how to best handle them. It is important to remain poker faced as they tell you how they would handle something as it might not be the safest or smartest choice. Allow your child to talk it through with you without immediately reacting (or over reacting) then discuss different options that may be a safer choice.

Our book, My Body is Special and Belongs To ME! Is a great teaching tool for your child. Above is a page from our book teaching children about secrets. Our children’s book also contains an extensive parent section to help you continuing the learning. By having the conversation about good secrets and bad secrets you have now deepened the lines of communication between you and your child and taught your child one way to become a hard target for a predator. To purchase our book,My Body is Special and Belongs to ME!http://www.kidsafefoundation.org/products/   all proceeds from our book help support the F

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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