Summer safety tips to help prevent child abuse

The arrival of summer can mean a change in routines and exposure to new people, whether at a summer camp, at a friend’s house, or with a new babysitter. These summer safety tips can help keep your child safe.

Ask about camp policies

Summer camps provide a great opportunity for kids to learn and grow, but they also carry the potential of abuse by an adult or another camper. Before enrolling your child in any summer program, be sure to ask questions about what policies they have in place to prevent abuse.

One of the rules we teach is the rule of three, meaning there should always be three people, whether it’s two adults and one child or two children and one adult. In other words, one child should never be left alone with one adult. Most abuse occurs in one-on-one situations, and the rule of three is a critical piece of prevention.

Also ask what level of training camp staff receive about watching for abuse between campers. What supervision policies are in place during non-structured program time? What’s the staff-to-camper ratio, and is it appropriate for the age group? What is their policy related to background checks on employees?

Know the rules at friends’ houses

As a parent, you should have rules for what is and isn’t allowed at your house. That might include anything from basic safety measures (no jumping on the bed!) to measures that protect your children from abuse, such as not letting older teens be in the house alone with younger children.

Before you send your kids off to play at a neighbor or friend’s house, be sure you talk with their parent to find out what rules they have in place. Will kids be left at home with no adult supervision? Are there restrictions about how many friends can be over at one time?

Take extra caution with one-on-one caregivers

There are some situations where your child may have to be alone with an adult, such as for a music lesson or with a babysitter in your own home. In those situations, be sure to thoroughly screen anyone who will be alone with your child. This may include background checks or multiple personal references.

It’s also a good idea to check in occasionally or show up at an unexpected time, just to be sure everything is okay. Trust your instincts and remove your child from a situation if you feel uncomfortable about it. And always trust your child if they tell you something’s wrong.

Talk to your kids about abuse

As you prepare for summer, be sure to talk to your child about abuse. Educating kids about abuse goes beyond stranger danger, because most situations of abuse happen with someone your child knows and trusts.

That can be the case at summer camp, too. Even if your child hasn’t known them long, they probably have some level of trust in the camp staff. Remind them that there are no secrets between adults and children, whether that’s camp staff, the babysitter, or any other adult.

Be sure your child knows what to do if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. If they feel unsafe or someone tries to take them somewhere or hurt them, they should say “No” as loudly as they can and then get away as fast as they can.

Our More Than Stranger Danger program can help parents and other trusted adults on signs to watch for and how to talk to kids about abuse. Contact us today for more information about scheduling a presentation.

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