Sex Offenders: What Should You Tell Your Children?
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If you discover there is a registered sex offender in your neighborhood, what should you tell your child?
Talking to Your Children
Think about what you will say before talking with your child.
- You don’t want to terrify your children.
- You want to give your kids factual information and skills to keep themselves safe.
You may want to show your child a photo of the offender.
- You don’t need to go into detail about the crime the sexual predator committed—that’s really scary stuff.
You CAN give your kids this information and recommend specific action:
- This photo is of a person they might see around, and this person has tried to trick kids before.
If this person tries to talk to them, your child should:
- Immediately take 3 steps back
- Run away
- Tell you or another trusted adult
Follow-up with reminders of safety rules, and practice “What If…” scenarios. Our free Child Safety Kit provides plenty of ideas for children in each age group. You might also want to teach them how to recognize and respond to Dangerous Adult Behaviors.
Ways to Keep Children Safe
Listen to your children if they come to you with scary information or rumors from school.
- Acknowledge your child’s fears. Kids can easily translate vague adult warnings into stories about lunatics and monsters.
- Be prepared to reassure your children with factual safety information.
- Reinforce safety skills.
One of a child’s greatest protections is the ability to say “No” to adults when appropriate. This is very hard for children to do. Help them discover when it’s a good idea to say “No,” then help them practice saying it out loud.
- Reassure your kids that you won’t be mad if they make a mistake. It’s part of the process of learning to be safe.
Listen to your child. Relationships based on love, respect and open communication will let your children bring questions and fears to you. It will also help you discuss scary subjects with your children in matter-of-fact ways.
Sex Offender Resources for You
You can locate sex offenders using the free FBI national sex offender registry.
If you think your child has been abused, immediately call Child Help USA (800-4-A-Child). Their professional crisis counselors are available 24/7, and can help you and your child.