ChildSafe: helping to keep summer safer for kids

The local nonprofit shares four key strategies for parents to prioritize child safety as the school year comes to an end.

SAN ANTONIO — School is out for summer for many local schools and that means freedom and fun for children, but it’s also a time for parents to think about safety.

Officials with ChildSafe, a beautiful healing campus in east San Antonio where kids can get help recovering from abuse, has released a list of important ideas that parents can use to help protect kids as they jump into summer fun.

Jennifer Othman, with ChildSafe, said “Children are not in school. They are potentially around different caretakers and there’s a lot of different elements in the summer that parents have to plan for.”

ChildSafe says the numbers back up their concerns. National statistics show child sex abuse often spikes during the summer months.

“Planning ahead and having contingency plans, regardless if your kids are going to be at summer camp. They could be at in home daycare or staying with a trusted family member. Planning ahead is key to mitigate any of those potential risks,” Othman said.

They share four key points:

Open communication: “It is about identifying safe and trusted adults in all the different situations. If it’s a summer camp, if it’s in a home, who is the person that a child can go to and confide in if they feel uncomfortable is incredibly important,” Othman said. 

Education: “We encourage every caregiver to talk to their child in an age appropriate way about their body autonomy. Talk to them about what is a safe touch, versus an inappropriate touch, healthy boundaries, and what to do if you do feel uncomfortable,” Othman said.

Boundaries:  “There is a lot of awareness for caregivers and children that it is okay to say no. You don’t have to touch an adult or give them a hug if you’re not comfortable and there are boundaries and setting boundaries is important,” said Othman.

And finally supervision, which Othman said includes real world and online activities: “It’s anywhere in the community, children need to know how to protect themselves, how to identify potential issues and what to do if they feel uncomfortable and that goes back to who is the safe and trusted adult they can confide in.”

Othman said it’s never too early to have these important conversations. “It can be an uncomfortable conversation and so helping to reduce that stigma, how do we make it a more comfortable conversation to have and practicing those and knowing it’s okay to have these conversations, it’s not taboo. We can talk about these things and there is a safe way to do it, that’s how we start the prevention effort,” she said.

The ChildSafe website has resources for parents and other caregivers.  They have free training sessions on a variety of topics that can be accessed in person or online.

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