Just recently our base community had an unfortunate and scary situation unfold at the Youth Center- an employee was identified as an alleged child molester. Needless to say, it set our military community on edge. We hear it all the time- living on base gives you a false sense of security.
I won’t lie- I definitely feel safer on base than I do off-base. But that doesn’t mean that just because we live on a military base that we live and work with are good or trustworthy people. We have to remember that the military community is just a microcosm of our larger population. Just as there are good people in the world, unfortunately, there are bad people as well.
It’s easy to forget that when we live on military installation. We feel protected, guarded, and safe and, as parents, we inadvertently loosen up on our children. We forget to teach them the skills they need to keep themselves safe and protected.
Although there’s no surefire way to keep our children 100% safe at all times, there are some steps we can take as parents and individuals to safeguard the ones we love.
7 Things Every Parent Needs to Teach or Remind Their Child (Whether You Live On-Base or Off-Base)
1. Teach your children that they don’t have to hug or kiss anyone that they do not want to. If this means Great Aunt Mildred gets snubbed on Christmas Eve, so be it. Letting your children know they have control over their own bodies is very important.
2. Stranger danger works but someone who wants to hurt your child won’t necessarily be a stranger. It’s still worth teaching, but let them know that they always have the right to express themselves to people closest to them.
3. Check your child’s cellphone if they have one. There are apps and programs that will copy all text messages and send them to you, you just need to find one that works for you. Also monitor their social media use. One program that monitors EVERYTHING including Facebook is Mobile Spy.
4. Know that predators can be anyone, even the super nice person that helps out at your kid’s after school program. They are manipulative and are skilled at being “nice.”
5. Take the time to get to know the people your child is around. If your child is enrolled in extracurricular activities find out if background checks are performed.
6. Watch out if someone seems to regularly single out your child for extra attention. It’s a red flag and you should be aware. Don’t be afraid or timid about investigating it further.
7. Maintain an open dialogue with your child, and let them know \that they can tell you anything. Practice being curious. Ask about their school day, their friends, the high points and the low points of their day.