7 Tips on Keeping Your Child Safe from Touching Games

"Boys will be boys," so some, who like to excuse offensive behavior, will say. But being a boy doesn't excuse assault, harassment, and sexual advances toward girls. However, we hear the stories in the media of boys who felt that it was okay to touch girls and at times were severely punished because of it. So what happens when it is your child? Your daughter comes to you and tells you, "Mom (Dad) there was a boy at school who put his hands on my breast and touched my backside." How would you handle it?

I had been that nine year old in a new school where boys didn't see it as nothing more than a game to touch a girl's private parts. They would target something they wanted to feel and tell their friends. Then they would hit the unlucky girl and take off running. Later, they would tell their friends whether the girl was okay with it or not. I was the one who fought back. Word traveled fast that I was mean. "Don't touch her," I would hear them say. "She is mean." That's right at nine years old my mother taught me if a boy touched you inappropriately you fight and you tell your teacher and if she didn't do anything about it, my mother was going up to my school. However, some parents didn't teach their children. I would see some of these girls deliberately sticking their breasts out or behinds playing a game of "catch me if you can!" I remember feeling sick to my stomach and a fear at times going to school, because I knew that if too many boys circled me I was doomed, but I told myself I would fight as best I could. Thank God I never got caught in the circle, but I couldn't feel sorry for the ones who did get caught, because I saw them laughing and smiling while taunting and teasing the boys before it happened. Their parents hadn't taught them any better. By the time we reached high school these same girls were pregnant before they reached 18 and by the time we all reached 25 they had already 4 or more children. I also would have to mention that there was either a mother's boyfriend or no dad in these girl's households.

So here I was at nine years old living in a strict household and never being exposed to soft porn behavior until I went to school. So I hear, things haven't changed since the eighties, they have only gotten worse. Now I have an eight and nine year old and they have told me stories about girls who are trying to kiss them. They have seen and heard stories of both girls and boys playing games that would make your jaws drop! So I asked them "Where was your teacher? Where was your daycare provider, did you tell someone?" They would answer, "She was busy." or "I told her and she said okay." So it was then that I thought, "What should parents be doing to prepare their children for the 'if you show me yours, I will show you mine' games?" So the following is what I have come up with based on personal experience as a girl, a woman, and a mom with sons.

First, as soon as your child tells you something strange has happened to them and they are obviously looking uncomfortable or maybe they don't come right out and tell you, but ask questions such as "What is sex?" You need not act offended, angry or behave like an attorney. This is when your child needs you to listen to them like a friend, noticed I said like a friend, I didn't say be his or her friend. You need to ask follow up questions slowly. "Well how did it make you feel when you saw the boy (or girl) acting like that?" Then listen to how your child responds. Next, lead in with a story of your own that made you feel uncomfortable before you tell them what they ought to say or do. Explain to them how the situation was handled by your mom and dad and how you felt about it. Your child may not want you to do anything about what they have shared with you for fear or embarrassment. So you will want to make them feel at ease about what they have shared with you while assuring them that you don't want them to get in trouble or lose friends, then thank them for sharing. Also, reward them for telling the truth, but behind their backs you get down to the bottom of this mess. What is really going on at the school playgrounds, in the coat room, back of the class, dark hallway, the bedroom of the childcare provider, back yard or behind the couch?

Next, you need to take a serious look at their surroundings as listed previously. Are there places at the school or daycare that make you feel uncomfortable as a parent? Are too many children hanging out in the tunnels on the playground far too long? What about the big oak tree or under the sliding board? Some home daycare providers have far too many places for children to act mischievous. They can also have way too many cable channels that they are turning through to get to your child's favorite children's show and so your child could be exposed to shows by accident or on purpose. He or she may see something in between channel changes that they shouldn't be seeing (of course you may be guilty of this yourself.) Music videos and teen movies tend to have way too much kissing, touching, and sexual dancing. A little girl will want to emulate the women she sees moving and gyrating. They are tall, pretty, wear beautiful clothes and jewelry. Why wouldn't they want to be like them? When you see your daughter imitating their dance moves, praise should be the last thing that any parent should be doing, but if you do a quick search on YouTube.com you will see many parents doing just that. Then they wonder why their little angel is pregnant, abused, misused and the like by age 14, 15, 16. Boys will be boys so they say, but that is no excuse and girls will be girls, but teasing boys is not what any girl should be doing.

Third, know who your children admire. Many little girls and boys have a great deal of respect for older children. So when you entrust your child into the hands of an older child, be prepared for them to no longer want to act their age; instead, they will want to act like the big girl or big boy they know. When your young child is cared for by an older child who grew up way too fast themselves, you are putting your child at risk for acting in ways that are inappropriate. Then you will want to discipline them for behavior you could have prevented yourself.

Oftentimes children will not want to get anyone in trouble for fear they may lose friends, so if you notice your child isn't as talkative when you bring up certain subjects, doesn't want to hug you like they once did, and other signs they are withdrawing from you, you will want to find out what is causing this change in their behavior. Start a conversation with them and if they seem unresponsive, looking away, or responding to your questions with short answers, you know they have something to hide.

Fourth, at some point, you will want to take some time away from work and start reacquainting yourself with your child. Just like couples need time together to enhance their relationships, parents need to learn how to take some time away from work and spend it with their children. The weekend doesn't always provide enough time to find out what is really going on in their lives as well as enhance the parental bond. You will be surprised at what you will find out. I learned a lot when I sat down each day with my children in their environment (not my bedroom or office space I wanted them to feel comfortable) read a book or watched a movie with them, and took them to places. I will tell you that if you read the Bible with them, you will find some subjects that will stimulate conversations about violence, adultery, how men treat women, etc. I was fascinated at how much knowledge they already had about these issues in life. One of my sons at eight years old told me, one day while reading the Bible, he thought a man having more than one wife was wrong. I didn't tell him whether it was right or wrong he figured it out on his own and I agreed with him. Both sons thought that men fighting and killing one another was also wrong. Yet, when they have told me stories about what their friends have said their friends acted as if it was okay. Children pay attention more to what adults do than what they say. Now for some parents the Bible may not be something you would like to use, to each their own, but there are plenty of books out there that are age appropriate and discuss sensitive subject matter. Don't underestimate your children, because most likely they already know plenty and whether we want to face the truth or not, it may have already been your child, your neighbor's child or my child in the coat room, under the slide, or behind the oak tree.

Fifth, interview your child's teachers and daycare providers who are so busy that they are "unaware that this had happened" maybe they need a second set of eyes, rearrange the classroom, get a light bulb in the dark hallway or do something else to ensure that the children are not able to get away with playing these "touch" games. I remember times as a child when playground staff had been so busy socializing with one another that they didn't bother to pay attention to the two children holding hands or the long line of girls waiting to kiss a handsome boy.

Sixth, when an offense happens to your child make a stink about it! Document what happened as told to you by your child, make copies, meet with the administration, and if necessary file charges with the police. That's right file charges. There are parents who say they will handle the matter with their child and they don't and little sassy Sandy and fresh little Frank are still going around school thinking about who they can bother next. The key is to put a stop to this kind of behavior immediately and the only way you can do that is by sounding a loud alarm by embarrassing some folks, or as one mother told me, "Put the business out in the street!"

Lastly, when it is all said and done, you may have to transfer your child to a new school depending on how bad, how frequent, and how the administration chooses to handle or not handle the matter. Let's face it, some schools are simply better than others, and why should you have to keep your child in a school that is not doing the best it can to ensure your child is being educated about reading, writing and arithmetic rather than the birds and the bees on a daily basis.

For more articles by Nicholl McGuire, Click Here!

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