Planning ahead, talking with kids will help San Antonio parents keep theirs safe this summer, nonprofit says

The nonprofit also said supervision and setting boundaries is key to prioritizing child safety as the school year comes to an end.

SAN ANTONIO — School is out for summer for many San Antonio 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 healing campus in east San Antonio where kids can receive 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.

“Children are not in school,” said ChildSafe’s Jennifer Othman. “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 (is important), regardless (of) 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,” Othman said. “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.”

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

Boundaries

“There is a lot of awareness for caregivers and children that it is okay to say no,” Othman said. “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.”

Supervision

Othman said this includes real world scenarios and online activities

“It’s anywhere in the community,” she said. “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.”

>Read ChildSafe’s full strategies for parents below:

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 (by thinking about) how do we make it a more comfortable conversation to have and practicing those and knowing it’s OK to have these conversations—it’s not taboo,” she added. “We can talk about these things and there is a safe way to do it. That’s how we start the prevention effort.”

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

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