Have the Talk
Right now, over 750,000 predators are looking for kids online.
One conversation can stop them.
Whether it’s social media, live streaming apps or online games, predators know where kids are and how to take advantage of them. It’s more important than ever to talk to your kids about online safety so they know what’s appropriate — and what’s not.
But sexual exploitation can be a difficult topic to raise with your child, let alone talk about. Below are 10 tips to make this conversation a little easier.
Educate Yourself – Sexual exploitation is a complexed, nuanced issue, which can make it a difficult topic to learn about. This is one of the reasons it goes undetected in our communities. But, by reading this webpage you have taken an important first step. To learn more follow us on social media, join our mailing list and/or enquire about our workshops. You don’t have to learn everything straight away, but by remaining connected to us you will increase your knowledge and skills in how to keep children safe.
Start Early – Starting early and doing a little bit at a time can help keep children from feeling overwhelmed.
Be a Safe Person – Explain why having this conversation is important to you; that you want your child to know how they can keep themselves and others safe and that they can come to you if ever they think or feel that they aren’t. Be approachable and authentic. This may feel like an uncomfortable topic to discuss with your child at first, but the more you are able to talk to your child about this, the more normalized these conversations can feel, and the greater the chance that you will be the person they come to for help.
Take the Time – Avoid providing simple answers to an issue as important as sexual exploitation. Instead, take the time to engage in dialogue, and stick to the facts and truth.
Be Patient –Be patient if your child is not engaging. Keep trying!
Tailor the Conversation to the Age of Your Child – Providing young people with information that is age appropriate can make it easier for them to understand that sex is a natural part of human development. It also makes it easier to speak with them about the more complicated aspects of sexual intimacy as they grow older.
Ask Questions and Outline Boundaries – Be curious. Ask your child about their online activities: What do they like to do online? Who are their online friends? Have they ever seen something that made them feel uncomfortable? What did they feel and/or do about it? Did they know what to do about it? Let them know what is okay or not okay online (i.e., not sharing private information or images, switching platforms, meeting in real-life, accepting gifts from online-friends), and that whatever happens – you are there for them. They are not alone.
Value Their Opinion – When communicating, remember to speak with your child rather than at your child. This will allow them to feel like an equal rather than a less-than member of the family. When you listen to your child, they will feel their voice matters. As a result, they will be more secure in standing up for themselves and their rights. Also, your child will feel more comfortable coming to you with their issues and concerns.
Make Use of Available Resources – If you are struggling to connect with your child through conversation, try basing it around a current news article. Ask their opinion on it and explore their thoughts and feelings as well as your own.
Create a Safety Plan – A safety plan is a document designed to help you and your child discuss and decide what they should do if ever they feel unsafe, and who they can turn to for help. Engaging in this task can make having a conversation about this difficult topic more natural for both of you, as it guides you both through it.