Parents

8 Important ‘What Ifs?’ to Help Keep Your Kids Safe

02/01/2017 03:09am ET | Updated February 3, 2017
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Empowering our kids and giving them a voice (especially in regards to their body) is paramount. Teach your kids their Body Safety Rules, and then reinforce these important personal safety messages by asking the following “What If?” questions.

Take a minute or two at the park or when waiting for a sibling to finish a sporting activity. Any time is a good time when you are both fully engaged with the learning. Try to revisit these “What Ifs?” often to further reinforce these crucial messages.

1. WHAT IF?

What if a person tells you to keep a secret that makes you feel uncomfortable and unsafe?

You know: Secrets that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe should NEVER be kept.

Say: I don’t keep secrets. I only keep happy surprises, because they will eventually be told.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

2. WHAT IF?

What if you feel any of your *Early Warning Signs in any situation?

You know: That this is your body letting you know something is not right.

Say: No! I don’t want to do that!

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

3. WHAT IF?

What if someone asks to see or touch your private parts? Or they ask you to touch their private parts?

You know: Your body belongs to you and your private parts are just for you. Other people’s private parts are just for them.

Say: No! My private parts are just for me. (Note: Children may not have the voice/power to say, “No!” to a more powerful figure so they need to know it’s okay to go straight to “Action.”)

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

4. WHAT IF?

What if someone shows you pictures on a smartphone, tablet or computer of adults, teenagers or children showing and/or touching their private parts.

You know: No one should show you pictures of private parts. This is very wrong.

Say: No! Don’t show me those pictures! Kids should never see these kinds of pictures.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

5. WHAT IF?

What if someone tells you to play a “fun game” where you both pull down your pants and show each other your private parts?

You know: Your body belongs to you and your private parts are just for you.

Say: No! My private parts are just for me.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

6. WHAT IF?

What if someone asks you (or sends you a message on a smartphone, tablet or computer) to send them pictures of your private parts?

You know: This is very wrong.

Say: No! This is wrong. Kids don’t do this.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

7. WHAT IF?

What if an adult, an older teenager or other kids start to make jokes about private parts?

You know: No one should ever make jokes about private parts especially with kids.

Say: Stop! You should never joke about private parts with kids.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway. If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

8. WHAT IF?

What if children are playing around in the toilets (or playground) at school and trying to see other people’s private parts?

You know: Everyone’s body belongs to them and kids should not be trying to look at each others’ private parts.

Say: Stop! This is wrong. You are not allowed to look at other kids’ private parts.

Action: Tell one of the adults on your *Safety Network straightaway (usually your teacher or the teacher on duty). If they don’t believe you, tell another adult on your Safety Network. Keep on telling until you are believed.

Reinforce to your child that they can talk to you about anything! NOTHING is off the table. That way, if something is worrying them, they will feel confident to come straight to you. Be their safe person!

Note: Encourage your child to get away as quickly as possible if any of these scenarios arise. However, this may not always be practical or safe to do so. It may also depend on the age of the child.

*Safety Network: 3 to 5 adults that a child can trust and can tell anything to and know those adults will believe them.

*Early Warning Signs: When our body lets us know that we are scared or uncomfortable, i.e., we may have sweaty palms, sick tummy, shaky legs, heart racing, etc. Free Early Warning Signs poster to share with children.