Education and open dialogue are important strategies in protecting children from harm. (Contributed)

Teach your kids to protect themselves from abuse

Two weeks ago The Spotlight published a story about a child sex offender who was living within his parole conditions, in close proximity to John Allison Elementary School.

Almost immediately after publication, the man was removed from Princeton by Correction Services Canada. It’s possible the swift response was, in part, out of concern for the offender’s safety. To characterize the citizenry’s general reaction to the original article as ‘concerned’ would be a major understatement.

Related: Child sex offender relocated from Princeton after newspaper reveals his proximity to school

People feel safer now that he’s gone.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no other child sex offenders living in Princeton – caught, convicted, paroled or otherwise.

Related: Elderly Princeton man pleads guilty in child sex abuse case

The majority of these offences are never reported to police.

There is enough data though, to form a fairly accurate offender profile. Here it is – it could be anyone.

In many cases a child knows the abuser. That means a victim’s parents will likely know the person as well.

You cannot protect your children from exploitation by digging out the names of all the known sex offenders in your town or city, and making sure they never cross paths.

That’s like planning to protect your children from drowning by identifying all the known lakes, rivers and unfenced backyard pools in your vicinity, and telling them not to go there.

You save your children by teaching them how to swim, and then you stand back and be vigilant, like a lifeguard.

The strategies for protecting a child are available to everyone.

These suggestions are not cribbed from a parenting advice book, or study paper.

This is just a mom talking:

• Explain to your child that his body belongs to him, and him alone. No one is allowed to touch it, if he doesn’t want it touched.

• Teach about uncomfortableness. Uncomfortable is the human early warning system. Your child needs to know that when she thinks something is wrong, it probably is, and she should trust and act on that instinct.

• When your child has a question about sex, answer it. Be matter-of-fact, and provide as much information as he or she wants to receive.

• Promise your child that she can come to you with any problem or story, and you will always be open and supportive. Repeat often and follow through.

• Recognize the signs of grooming. As kids wander from the family bubble they come into the care of other adults, through school, sports, church and other activities. Watch for what can best be described as “colouring outside the lines.” Is your child receiving gifts from a neighbour, or being offered extra coaching, or opportunities to spend time alone with a mentor? These are situations that could well be harmless, and even enriching. But they bear watching.

All of the above can be accomplished while never starting a conversation with the scary words: “There are bad people out there who want to hurt you.”

It’s a big ocean. Teach them to swim, and be the lifeguard.

There are resources available to help children who are being sexually abused, and survivors of child sex assault. In Princeton, the RCMP operate a Victims Services Program. Contact: 250-293-6095. Princeton Family Services Society provides counselling services to women who have experienced sexual assault, relationship violence or childhood abuse. Contact 250-295-3126 or the crisis line: 250-273-7867. The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. operates, where children can chat with an online crisis responder, daily, from noon to 1 a.m.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

Morning Start: The inventor of the Pringles can is now buried in one

Your morning start for Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020

Jordan Naterer, 25, was last seen Saturday Oct. 10. He planned a hike in the Manning Park area, and has not been seen since. Photo Facebook.
Parents not giving up, after official search for Manning Park hiker suspended again

‘We are determined, but eventually the money is going to run out.’

A house on Highway 3A caught fire Sunday evening, Oct. 25, 2020.
House fire on Highway 3A in Keremeos

Neighbours acted quickly to help save home

Morning Start: Bubble wrap was originally intended to be wallpaper

Your morning start for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

(Brennan Phillips - Western News)
UPDATE: Flames doused for second time at fatal Penticton apartment fire

The Elm Ave. building first caught fire around 4 a.m., killing two people and displacing dozens

Two have been taken to hospital following a vehicle crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Crash north of Vernon causes Highway 97 traffic delays

Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle incident near Swan Lake; occupants taken to hospital

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

Penticton apartment fire claims two lives

An apartment on Elm Avenue went up in flames Tuesday morning

A Summerland woman has set up an online fundraiser to provide backpacks to those being released from correctional facilities.(
Summerland woman raising money for backpack program

Backpacks will be distributed to those being released from correctional facilities

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

Most Read