Have you ever wondered how to prepare your kids for handling unseen dangers, such as pornography, yet also preserve the innocence of childhood as best as possible? I believe that intentionally imparting wisdom to kids can help balance their naivety without having them grow up too fast. Learning prevention tools can make a powerful difference!
Kids are like sponges, and they seem to absorb more from their environment than we, as grown-ups, sometimes realize. However, their young moral filters are still developing, so making sense of threatening things or the concept of evil in our world can be confusing.
Kids often know too much from the Internet and don’t have the wisdom to say “No!” and get away from pornographic material and its harmful effects, especially on a growing brain.
Planning prevention strategies to train kids against unseen Internet dangers may temporarily feel uncomfortable. However, this momentary uneasiness can be more bearable than a lifetime of pain from the harms of pornography and child sexual abuse. Plus, there is a way to empower kids with personal safety through a positive and common sense approach–what a relief!
Teach them personal boundaries
Kids love to feel in charge from time to time, which requires boundary training. Have you ever heard a young kid say to an older kid, “You’re not the boss of me!”? The good news is that kids are in charge of something important–their own bodies!
Kids enjoy their fledgling independence by tying their own shoes, writing their own name, or whatever the next life skill is they can do without help. Similarly, to help young kids know they are primarily in charge of their bodies, you can tell them, “Your body belongs to you.”
This boundary training of saying “No!” to unwanted or harmful images, words, or actions begins with a healthy sense of self, independent of others. It can be the foundation upon which to build a moral filter. The ability to set internal boundaries on themselves and have self-control will serve them well throughout their life. Exercising the boundary muscle of being “in charge of you” is a great prevention tool for kids saying “No!” to unforeseeable dangers.
Encourage open communication
Kids love to feel grown-up, which requires building bridges of communication. As grown-ups, we have an amazing opportunity to lead and train kids to be leaders!
Sometimes pretending something like child pornography doesn’t exist may feel easier in the moment. Although, if grown-ups do not lead kids in the right direction with prevention tools, the pornography culture will try to steal your leadership from you and communicate its message that sexploitation is the norm!
It’s not a matter of if, but when, a kid may experience a questionable encounter, such as child sexual abuse, which can include both physical contact and non-physical contact (pornography, sexually explicit language, etc.).
Take the prevention lead and begin to talk to kids about simple safety concepts, like fire and water safety. Then, explain more unique safety concepts such as Internet and people safety. Finally, introduce personal safety and sexual abuse prevention using child-friendly language.
Invite your child out to a fun “grown-up lunch” together and practice sharing early and often about small things and important matters in life so the bridge of communication stays open for possible intervention.
Develop a family safety plan
Develop a family safety plan, which requires practice and role-play. Important components of a family safety plan include a “family code word” for danger so that a kid can call to get help without alerting the offender. Also, make sure they know how to dial 911 and give information to the dispatcher.
It is imperative that kids understand that safe, trusted caregivers and grown-ups do the right things with kids. But if anyone ever tries to show them pornography or an unsafe touch, the kids needs to learn to say “No!” and get away if they can. They should also tell someone safe and keep telling until it stops!
Compile a list of safe people with phone numbers to call during a dangerous situation and make it accessible for all. Foster ownership in the family safety plan by allowing everyone to have input and role play various skills such as dialing 911 and saying “No!” to dangerous scenarios like violations of privacy, unsafe touches, unsafe games, bullying, bribes, and Internet pornography or predators.
Say “No!” and Tell! Books
Undoubtedly, there is an intense world-wide culture war over our kids today. The pornography culture is aggressively grooming our youth to become a victim of sexual abuse or even an offender because of porn’s addictive nature in harming the young brain.
When we focus on instilling the prevention tools of boundaries, bridges of communication, and a family safety plan, we empower kids to have their eyes wide open with the wisdom to recognize dangerous encounters, say “No,” and tell someone.
Pornography can be the gateway drug to addiction and a grooming tool for child sexual abuse. But we can empower kids and preserve their innocence by training kids with prevention tools including positive life skills.
To help parents learn how to teach boundaries and sexual abuse prevention to kids, I wrote a book called Say “NO!” and Tell! You can read this “story” aloud, along with eight researched based “scenarios” to role-play, which I designed to teach positive life skills from studying the predators’ tricks. Plus, you will find a quiz, family safety plan, how to report abuse, a “grown-ups only” removable section, and resources to help empower your kids from the harms of porn and child sexual abuse without the need to discuss reproduction–the focus is prevention!
Kimberly Perry is an elementary school educator with a Master’s of Arts in Teaching and over 15 years of experience working with children across the country. After teaching personal safety to over a thousand elementary students, she was inspired to write the Say ‘NO!’ and TELL! book series, with the foreword written by Josh McDowell. You can connect with Kimberly and order her books at www.WeStandGuard.com.