Archives For safety

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Maybe you read the sad stories reported recently of two McDonald's bathroom disasters.

First, a cruel "prank" by teenage girls that left superglue on a little girl’s bottom.

Second, a tragic pedophile attack against a little six year old boy.

I was furious when I read these accounts as I am sure you were too. My heart goes out to both the victims and the parents.

These stories have unleashed a flurry of online discussion asking this question:

How old should a child be to go to a public restroom unsupervised?

I would imagine that both of these parents that came forward to tell their stories deeply regret that their children were injured and wish they could go back and make that day's bathroom decision over again. So, I am not trying to add pain to their already hurting hearts.

But we do need to have a frank conversation here on this post as this is a tough issue for most of us to figure out for the following reasons:

  1. We do not want to raise paranoid children or fearful children.
  2.  We want our children protected at all cost from all forms of sexual assault and harassment.
  3.  We all have to use public bathrooms and many of us have opposite sex children who are too old to enter the restroom with us.

Moms at mall found this sign posted on the door of the women’s restroom: “Please boys over 6 years of age use Men’s restroom. Thank you.” The image was later posted on Facebook with commenters debating how to handle this.

I would love to hear how your family has solved this difficult issue.

Here are 10 thoughts I have on this issue that has been in my daily world for over 25 years! (not necessarily in order of importance)

1.  Don't care what people think:   I am going to make the best decisions I can for my children even if others around me are not in agreement

2.  Err on the side of caution:  If there will be an error, I choose to lean on the conservative side of safety rather than the side of independence or convenience.

3.  Trust no one:  Obviously, that sounds quite inflammatory! But in a public rest room I have no reason to trust anyone no matter how "nice" they look. I am too smart to believe that pedophiles wear signs around their necks. But I do put my trust in the Lord who gives us wisdom and discernment as well as divine protection.

4.  Teach your kids at home:  Be the annoying mom or dad that regularly reviews your family's safety rules and procedures. Do not think kids heard it once and never need reminders. Walk through common scenarios. Equip yourself with this podcast: “Teaching Our Kids Self-Protection Skills” with Protection Trainer Alli Neal.  

5. Pre-think bathroom issues:  Think ahead about bathrooms if at all possible. Cut the odds by having everyone use the bathroom before departure. This one tip faithfully implemented has caused me a great reduction in public bathroom issues.

6. Learn where your best family friendly options are located:  Once my mom became handicapped it is amazing how I took note of the best handicap stall options in town and learned to plan our shopping around them! The same is true for young parents needing to protect children.

7. Buddy systems throughout the visit:  Obviously, the buddy system is a help. However, kids will often run out ahead of each other and not stay together unless reminded.

8. Carry a potty chair: This is for the youngest readers among us but a great one to consider. Because I had so many kids so close together, there were many years that I carried a potty chair in my car as a matter of habit because I could not handle them all safely in public rest rooms without mess! Call it the "travel potty" instead of the potty chair. In a pinch 5 or 6 year olds can use travel pots.

9. Be the loud mom or dad:  When Josiah my youngest has to enter the men's room now and I have no other option (i.e. no family bathroom available and no buddy system in place), I announce very loudly right by the entrance to the men's room: "Josiah, I am standing right out here by the door waiting for you. Call me if you have any problems." I figure this is a good deterrent!

10. Support parental choices: I hesitate to put an exact age on when a boy should no longer enter the women's room. So when I see one that appears "bigger," I always give the mom a nod of support. She may even know something we don't. Her son may have special needs.  I figure we can all give each other some room and help keep our kids safe! The same is true when I see a helpless dad sending a little girl in by herself. I watch over that child without touching them or causing them to "talk to strangers."

What other ideas have you and your family found helpful?

Here is another blogger’s post on this topic:   Kids Should Not Go to the Restroom Alone

And this mom had a system, but it fell apart when they were out with family: Boys and Public Restrooms: When Is It Okay to Go Alone?

One final thought:

[Love]...always protects... 1 Corinthians 13:7

Image:  Wikipedia

 

 

For the last two days I have been working to sort out my thoughts related to the Joshua Duggar scandal.

Once again the issue of sexual abuse has reared its ugly head. Once again the whole realm of emotions related to sexual abuse are stirring in the public square.

How tragic for the victims.
How tragic for the tainted testimony.
How tragic for the Duggar family.

I am in no way interested in dissecting the case personally. Having no privy to the inside story, I would not risk misrepresentation.

However Russell Moore had a blog post that I feel good to pass on to you.

As we pray for all those involved in this scandal, I believe it is appropriate for us to ask ourselves,

What can we learn from this mess?

Please take a moment and read this post.

None of us can change what happened in the past. But we can provide a safer place for our kids in the future.

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The same day I posted about the trouble with sleepovers, one of my friends sent me this article by Ashlyn Melton:

One heartbroken mother's plea to other parents: Ask if there's a gun in the house

I hope you will read this today.

Looks like we have another concern to consider when we send out kids into another home!!! I am certainly talking to my kids and taking note! 

Related post: What To Do About Sleepovers

Image:  Internet Persona “Vigilance”  via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

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I didn't really want to read the article that a friend forwarded to me.  But I am very glad I did.

As I read Matt Barber’s The Left's Push for Adult-Child Sex and the cited research, I was able to remember afresh why I must stay alert for my sons.... and my daughters.

Parents, we must be aware that our children are growing up in a culture in which some are openly affirming and practicing child rape, euphemistically calling it “intergenerational sex.”  #ImNotOpen to this!

The politically correct climate of homosexual rights has tried to mask the danger that is right in front of our eyes.

So my recommendation?  

Dare to read the article. Pray for your family. Listen to the Holy Spirit for wisdom in leading and protecting your own children.

And insist on proper protections in every place your child frequents. It is that serious.

Image: woodlywonderworks "spring time soccer game 2" via Flickr Creative Commons
License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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I received this letter from a Frontline Mom last week:  (She said I could let you read her letter here.) 

Hello! I'm a homeschooling mom. I have recently been reading and learning about preventing all kinds of danger and abuse of children. I have a question about the subject of grooming. I really would like to be able to spot the difference between grooming behavior and typical close family friendship.

My husband and I believe that our family needs to be close to other Christians outside our family. We are part of both a church and a homeschool group that get together regularly in small groups in members' homes….

How do we grow close friendships with other families while still being confident that our children are safe playing outside our eyesight? How can we be sure our children are safe to play at even our closest friends' houses if we are not there?

A lot of what I read about the grooming process sounds like I cannot even trust my own gut and experience with people.

Thanks for your help!

I think she is asking some great questions, how about you?

Here are some of my best tips I want to give to our friend.

Dear S.:

I so appreciated your heartfelt requests! I think I can understand what you are saying.

Kalyn's sexual abuse totally shook my world. As I worked to recover our family, I thought for a while that the best strategy was to build a big moat around our home and pull up the drawbridge. But somehow that idea did not pan out for me! :)

I quickly discovered that fear, paranoia and hysteria were not helpful parenting motivators...  and were actually causing me to make errors in judgment. So instead, I adopted more reasonable approach. Here are 5 Important Strategies that helped me stay in balance.

1. Learn, learn, learn

Honestly, I did not know what I did not know about predators. I didn't understand that adults, if they are to pick up on the subtle grooming behaviors of predators, need to be saturated in the issue to the point where their senses are sharpened.

Read the stories. Learn the common tactics predators use with children, teens and adults. Learn the facts. And then after you have studied, link up to someone who calls your attention to the issue on a frequent basis, so it keeps the issue sharp in your mind and heart. (I can help you with that here on Frontline Moms and Dads. Start with our book Unmask the Predators. Read our posts and also click here for other websites to continue your education.)

2.  Build a team

One of the best strategies for deterring sexual abuse is to raise the standards in the groups your family frequents. You mention having groups of families who fellowship together. How about having a training meeting in your group? Bringing the issue into the light intentionally will raise the "bar of safety." Responsible, godly adults who study the issue will recognize the danger and then willingly submit to protective policies, because they care about all the children in the group.  No one wants our most vulnerable ones to be in danger of abuse!

Obviously, this is not the total answer.  Predators are known to infiltrate organizations where children are, and they will look for ways to violate your trust.   But when it is known that all the adults are on the lookout for suspicious behavior and everyone has pre-decided to report anything that is truly amiss, there is a degree of deterrence!

3.  Stay alert

In my book Unmask the Predators, chapter 12 is “26 Keys for Protecting Your Child from Sexual Predators.”

Key #2 is: Maintain a Watch List.  Please allow me to explain. In my previous way of thinking before Kalyn’s abuse, I would scan around me and classify people as either safe or dangerous—2 categories. But I understand now that this mindset can get us into trouble.  It can cause us to not to notice certain behaviors we should in a person we have already declared "safe."

Instead, now I am always watching. I just see what I need to see. I am always evaluating. I am NOT always expecting to see a problem. But I do not throw out data. I maintain alertness in accordance with 1 Peter 5:8.

4.  Sacrifice

Learning how to have safe standards in group settings is one thing. But putting them into practice consistently is another! I like the convenience of just putting one teenager in charge of a group of kids. But if I do that, I automatically increase risk to my program. So that means more manpower is required, which means more sacrifice. Sometimes the sacrifice is noise control when we need to leave kids in a room with us because we did not have a safe alternative.

I really appreciate the training programs of the insurance company our church uses. They can equip your group for safety. Check them out here.....and remember they only work with sacrifice!

5.  Pray and rest

Ultimately, only the Lord can carry this burden for us and keep our kids safe. Finding my own place of rest and faith was critical for me. As I maintain safety standards, I am regularly praying...

Lord, I pray that anything hiding in the darkness, You would bring to the light. Help me to see and know what I need to know. Protect our children from wolves in sheep's clothing. I plead the blood of Jesus over them and command every evil thing to stay away. In Jesus' Name!

Now as I pray, I match it with faith. God is at work! And my job is to trust and rest.

I hope those thoughts are some help! Let's stay in this fight for our kids' sake and the sake of a generation.

Love,

Lisa

Image: Will “The moat and drawbridge of Hever Castle”  via Flickr Creative Commons
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