With the recent news that longtime Subway sandwich pitchman Jared Fogle has agreed to plead guilty to allegations that he paid for sex acts with minors and received child abuse images that he knew had been secretly produced by the former director of his charitable foundation, we at KidSafe Foundation could not let this moment pass without making this tragedy a teachable moment for all parents.
We would like you to take this opportunity to raise your awareness of the dangers to your children both online and in the real world. There are a staggering 42 million adult survivors of abuse – 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually exploited before the reach the age of 18. 1 in 10 students will be the recipient of sexual misconduct by the hands of an educator – and 90% of children who are sex trafficked have a history of child sexual abuse. It makes us want to shout “Wake up world – we have an epidemic on our hands and what are we going to do about it? How can we keep our most precious citizens – the future leaders of this world safe?”
KidSafe has one answer…….EDUCATION. Who needs to be educated? All children, parents, teachers, professionals.
First children need to be taught they have the right to be safe. To say “no” to anyone (friend/adult/family member) that makes them feel confused, uncomfortable or unsafe. Just because it’s an adult does not mean blind obedience. Children need to be taught the difference between REPORTING and tattling. Reporting is going to a trusted adult about any safety issue. Children need to understand the difference between a safe touch and unsafe touch, about good secrets and bad secrets and recognize 3 trusted adults they could go to if they had any kind of problem.
If something unsafe happens to a child we of course want them to be able to tell. But the burden of telling cannot and should not be placed on a child. This is where the education of all adults is crucial in protecting children. All adults need to be provided with sexual abuse prevention training so they understand the dangers, gain knowledge on signs and symptoms of a child in need, recognize when a child is being groomed by an offender, and understand the importance of REPORTING to authorities if they have a suspicion a child is being harmed. Every adult MUST be the first line of defense in a child’s safety.
Some tips for parents:
Monitor your children’s online world – it is a privilege not a right to use technology and if they want to use it – you need to monitor it. Communicate with your child about the dangers online and in the real world. Remember these are not one time conversations – but a series of conversations as a natural part of your parenting. Remember we are talking about prevention – don’t wait until you have a crisis – prevent a crisis from happening and discuss “What if” scenarios with your children.