What if a sexual offender moves into my neighborhood? How do I talk to my child about it?    

What if a sexual offender moves into my neighborhood? How do I talk to my child about it?

1.) Show your child a photograph of the offender. Your child needs to know that this person has tried to trick or harm other children before. Your child should also know to never talk to this person and if approached to find mom, dad, or their caregiver immediately.

2.) Practice, practice, practice... A child should be aware of the most common (and some not so common) tricks a predator uses to lure children away with them. There are multiple 'What if...' scenarios that a parent or caregiver can go over and practice with their child. For example:

  • What if…a person asks you to help find their puppy (or cat, or bunny, or iguana-the list is endless)? Don't always use the same object since very young children may focus on that one particular example.
  • What if...a person wanted to give you money, a gift, or candy?
  • What if...a person asked you for directions?
  • What if...you get lost? Who would you ask for help from?
Children, especially younger children, will need to be supplied with answers the first few times they are taught these rules. As they have practiced repeatedly, remember to ask them to think of new situations or ideas and talk candidly with them. Role-playing is always a good idea, even if that means you as an adult have to role-play being a child.

3.) Give your child the facts. It is always better to provide the facts to a child than to give them vague warnings about an adult or situation. A child's imagination can easily run rampant. Give your child age-appropriate specifics and give them the tools to recognize a dangerous situation and how to handle it.

4.) For special needs children and very young children, be aware that a story with photographs or drawings can help instill safety awareness. A parent or caregiver can create their own 'story book' with photographs of the child, mom, dad, or caregiver, home, police officer, offender, a car, or even the acts of a person handing something to a child with a big 'NO' symbol drawn across the photo. Then the story can be read or shown repeatedly to the child to help them understand dangerous situations.