Summer can be a wonderful time for children of all ages. Free from the requirements of school, kids have more free time to spend away from their homes. For many parents, especially working mothers, summer is a time to send your kids off to relatives, summer camps, or other locations that allow them to focus their energy. During months of travel, transition, and visitations, how can parents keep their child safe?
The numbers are staggering. One in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused in the United States before they turn 18. About 20 percent of victims of child sexual abuse are under the age of eight. And unfortunately, 90 percent of the time a child is harmed, it’s at the hands of someone they know, love and trust. Yet despite these horrific numbers, we also know that 95 percent of child sexual abuse is preventable through education and awareness. This education and awareness can, and should, start right at home at a young age.
Yet conversations about child sexual abuse are scary, and parents might feel overwhelmed or unsure of how to even begin. That’s where the newest resource from Lauren’s Kids for parents can help.
Lauren’s Kids, a non-profit foundation that helps educate adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through resources and tools, has released the “Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families.” This resource is a comprehensive activity pack parents can use to teach children in Kindergarten through fifth grade the basics of personal safety, as well as the strategies needed to prevent abuse— all from a place of fun, not fear. Designed with elementary-aged children in mind, the tool offers six key safety lessons. Each building upon the previous one, so children can develop a framework of safety knowledge.
Adults receive their own “parent pack” to use with their child, while kids follow along in their own workbook. It’s complete with crossword puzzles, word searches, crafts, roleplay scenarios, games, and other entertaining activities. Adults and kids can work through topics like Safe and Unsafe Touches, Personal Space, Digital Safety, creating a list of Trusted Adults and Grown-Up Buddies, Spotting Strangers and more.
These strategies, along with the many others included in the “Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families,” will help build the foundation for personal safety, and will help keep children safe. It also helps adults start and continue an important conversation that will empower their children to be heard when they leave the comfort of their homes.
Being a parent is a messy and wonderful responsibility. And as mothers, we often worry about the health, wellness, and safety of our kids. But worrying about our children’s safety isn’t enough. By helping them identify behaviors and actions that feel unsafe or scary, and by being active listeners and participants in their feelings, we can work toward preventing the abuse that happens too often.
Florida families can order one free copy of the “Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families” packets online at shop.laurenskids.org. Additional copies of the packet activities for children can be downloaded at https://laurenskids.org/family-activity-pack/. I encourage all parents to visit www.laurenskids.org and learn how to keep their children safe.
Senator Lauren Book, M.S. Ed, is an internationally respected and renowned child advocate, former classroom teacher and best-selling author. She represents the Broward County-based District 32 in the Florida Senate and serves as the Democratic Leader Pro Tempore. Book is also one of 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. She founded Lauren’s Kids, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation, in 2007.