Saturday, October 24, 2009

Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 2

Parents should teach their children to be alert of dangers without robbing them of their childhood and happiness. Aside from letting my kids sketch alongside me when I am designing sterling silver components, I make an effort to engage them in conversations about being careful when I am not there with them.

Continued from Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 1 here are some more tips and advice from a parenting coach:

Help define who is a stranger, who is family, who is within the circle of friends. Parents should spell out who is included in the circle of family, and then who is considered a family friend, and so on. Rules of engagement should be clearly defined, age appropriately, for the child. This way, the child will easily be able to identify who is a stranger, and know not to accept candies or go home with them. I have no problems telling our children if a sterling silver component is a clasp or a piece of chain. My four year old knows what to do when she sees something that looks like a clasp. Teaching them how to classify is important in everything we do. It is a basic tool, and in this case, an important one for survival.

Don't force your children to be affectionate to everyone. We all want our children to be polite to strangers and, especially, our friends. We want them to show affection to, even asking them to kiss, our friends and acquaintances, many of whom our children have just met. There are sometimes social expectations that polite children should do this. Parents sometimes get upset when they child is too shy to show such social graces. However, this tells a child that being affectionate to strangers is politeness and expected of them. Parents certainly don't want their child to be affectionate to strangers in the park. So, it is much better not to force a child to kiss, and instead to teach them how to say hello politely, or not say anything at all to a stranger in the park.

I have a few other personal beliefs along the same line:

Live in the safest neighbourhood you can possibly afford. My husband wanted to live in a more socio-economically mixed neighbourhood. He felt that our children should not be sheltered in a safe and affluent neighbourhood, not appreciating how other less fortunate people live. There have been many cases of abductions and murders by transient and criminal neighbours. My husband is an ideologue, but naive. I vetoed it reflexively. He has since changed his mind also. Designing sterling silver components is not financially very rewarding. If I have to, I'd make more jewellery and sales to live in a safer environment for my children. You can't control your neighbours, but you can choose where you live, and by doing so, you have already reduced the risks significantly.

Monitor play date environments. Play dates are great, but only if the environment is safe. Take it slow, have a few meals or outings with the other parents. Try to covertly find out what kind of environment they will provide your child, and what could happen when you are not present, and whether or not it is acceptable to you. Don't make it like a job interview or interrogation, but close. I know many parents raise an eyebrow when they hear that I design sterling silver components for a living. Stability is on their minds, too.

Put contact information with your child when the child is going out. I usually write a note "If I am separated from my parents, please call: ...." with all of the contact information. I do this even if I am going out with them, in case we become separated in a crowd. I also made a necklace with sterling silver components that could encase a little note in the locket. I made it unique and a bit interesting figuring that if a policeman found her, they were certain to ask her about the necklace or check it out.

Teach your child her full name and the parents' names as early as possible. At age two we taught our child to recite and spell out her full name and our first names, with the hope that in case she gets lost, and does not have our contact information on her, she could tell the authorities who she is and our names for easy contact. My older daughter liked pretty jewellery from an early age. I taught her to say Stones and Findings. It was not necessary, and a bit silly, but anything helps.

Be present. One of my friends was molested repeatedly by a sport instructor after sessions. You also hear about horrors of hockey coaches. If it is a private session, be present, or in the next room, and preferably with access to video monitoring. Be present, bring your sterling silver components and work on some designs to past the time, and insist on no alone time after sessions. If you cannot pick them up, ask a parent you can trust to help drop your child off. It is sick, but you do hear often paedophiles drawn to working with children for easier access. Minimize this access. Let the instructors know that you are involved and take an active interest in your child's safety.

To go back and read the first half of this article, Jewelry Parent Concerned about Sexual Predators 1 you can click here.

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