Want to Keep Your Kids Safe from Predators? Me Too.

So our recent “tricky person” blog post spread like wildfire–something I truly never expected. We’ve been both humbled and grateful that our story has been the catalyst for so many family stay-safe discussions.  The overwhelming response to that post made it obvious to me that I am but a small fish in a sea of concerned parents who are thirsty for resources that can help us keep our kids safe.

Teaching our kids the information and skills they need in order to handle unsafe situations breeds confidence–not fear. And though I’m thankful I had introduced the tricky concept to my boys before that tricky person event occured, I realize there’s much more to the “keep our kids safe” pie than the tricky person slice alone. As a result of our “tricky person” post, I’ve had wise commenters and several kid-safety companies reach out to me to share additional ideas and resources to keep kids safe.

So, I compiled them for you. Read on!

Kid-Safety Company Resources:

  • Pattie Fitzgerald, founder of Safely Ever After, has written two children’s books that cover child safety concepts. I own both of these books and have appreciated having an illustrated and memorable way to talk to my kids about these important concepts. In Pattie’s own words:
    •  “My book No Trespassing – This Is MY Body! is all about private parts/personal safety and thumbs up touches vs. thumbs down touches.  It’s very child friendly and not weird or yucky.  Just good common sense in kid-friendly language.
    • My second book is called Super Duper Safety School. It takes the safety rules and explains each one in child-friendly terms that make sense and are empowering.  It covers tricky people, being the boss of your body, the uh-oh feeling, check first, and much more.  Both are available on Amazon.”
  • Abbie Schiller, founder of The Mother Company, collaborated with Pattie Fitzgerald to create an award-winning children’s show to help get the information to kids ages 2-7. Ruby’s Studio: The Safety Show (which airs on PBS)–outlines Pattie’s concepts of tricky people, being the boss of your body, listening to your uh-oh feeling, knowing what to do if you get lost, and more. The links to this show and related safety series books are below:
  • The KidSafe Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded to protect children from sexual abuse through education for kids, parents, and care-givers alike. Among other things, their website offers an informative video library for adults, and two children’s books that cover important safety topics (listed below). I have both books and again, I’ve loved using illustrated books to open the door for these important conversations with my kids.
    • My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! covers safe/unsafe touches, secrets, circle of safe adults, and being in charge of your body. The parent resource pages at the end of this particular book makes it absolutely invaluable.
    • Jack Teaches His Friends to Be KidSafe! covers unsafe secrets, the buddy system, check first, circle of safe adults, five step back rule, good secrets, trusted adults, reporting, safe/unsafe touches, and more.

Commenter Ideas and Resources:

  • Dawbln: “On a side note, my parents came up with a code word that a friend or neighbor picking us up would know. If someone said they were picking us up because mom couldn’t come, they had to know thee code word.”
  • Ethan: “Another major point that I try to keep at the top of my kids’ minds is that people who seek out an interaction with you must be put through a much stricter filter than people who you seek out an interaction with. You can pick someone at random out of a crowd and, no matter how scary they look, you are highly unlikely to be in any immediate danger from them. Those are just the odds. But when someone picks YOU those odds are out the window.”
  • Sue: “There is also a great book called My Underpants Rule which has really helped him know what to do if he is touched inappropriately by anyone.”
  • Julie: “People, including other unfamiliar CHILDREN, trying to lure them to another location or nearby vehicle with anything enticing….puppies, kittens, etc. with their promises to ‘see more’ of whatever they are using…Too often we neglect to teach them that an unfamiliar child can be just as dangerous! This too should be commonly taught.”
  • Cynthia: “I’ve also been really grateful for a book called The Swimsuit Lesson written by a former police officer who dealt with the bad outcomes of these situations.”
  • Anonymous: “I know from personal experience that often the worst offenders are known, trusted adults. It’s very important that kids learn that it’s not just strangers that may make them uncomfortable or do things that aren’t ok and that it’s ok to tell their parents when something makes them uncomfortable- even if it’s done by a family member or friend.”
  • Caroline: “…I wanted to add that in addition to the concept of “tricky people,” kids need to also be taught to avoid the “pretender”…the reason to specifically identify the “pretender” is that pretenders often take on the persona of someone in a position of authority…We teach our children to obey authorities like policemen and fire fighters, etc. so they may not be quick to identify a “tricky person” if they’re approached by a person pretending to be a police officer. I think talking to children about “the pretender” could be as important as helping them to identify “tricky people.””
  • Hope:  “There’s a DVD called The Safe Side we watch every spring when we start going to the park. It is a cute movie and it covers adults not asking kids for help. It also talks about “kinda knows” adults who are are friends of the family and what they should do when these people ask for help.”
  • Crystal: My Body Belongs to Me is an animated short film to educate children about sexual abuse.
  • Homeschool Mom: “God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb. The authors counsel sexually abused children. The reason this book is different from other books (aside from it having a Christian worldview, which is apparent in the title) is because it emphasizes the GOODNESS of our bodies.”

The ideas and resources above are obviously not all-inclusive, but they’re a great place to start. If you’ve already started, then consider these ideas and resources a place where you can figure out what holes you have in your arsenal of “protect my child” knowledge and then patch those holes. Though I’ve covered quite a few of the above topics with my kids, I am now more aware of what I haven’t considered empowering them with and will for sure be incorporating them into our weekly family meetings, as well as in our everyday conversations. Like when we’re driving in the car and all my kids are buckled so I have a literal captive audience! 😉

I will continue to update this post with relevant resources and ideas as they come in.

  • Crystal Thomason
    Posted at 11:25h, 14 June

    Thanks for your great article about Tricky People. I plan to share it with foster and adoptive parents in Iowa. I thought I would share this excellent resource with you.

    My Body Belongs to Me is an animated short film to educate children about sexual abuse.

  • Ben Moo
    Posted at 19:19h, 27 August

    Frankly who leaves their 8 and 10 ears old at a bus stop by themselves? Hospital stay or not. The neighbor could come inside the hospital to pick them up. Much safer. It’s asking for tragedy really. You’re playing with fire with your kids. I’m not sure I want to read what you have to say about anything and kids.

    • Jodie
      Posted at 21:17h, 31 August

      Hi Ben,

      I agree with you–leaving my boys on the bench right outside the hospital doors (not a bus stop, btw) truly was a ridiculous thing to do. Unfortunately I can’t change the stupid choice I made at that moment. What I can do, I’ve already done. I wrote up our story to illustrate the importance of teaching kids the critical, life-saving information that protected my boys. I hope parents don’t let my severe lapse in judgement at that moment derail them from the purpose of this blog post–to encourage the teaching of strategies and concepts kids need to keep themselves safe.

  • Homeschool Mom
    Posted at 15:13h, 14 September

    I’ve read half a dozen or more kids books for preventing sexual abuse and the one we like best is called “God Made All of Me” by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb. The authors counsel sexually abused children. The reason this book is different from other books (aside from it having a Christian worldview, which is apparent in the title) is because it emphasizes the GOODNESS of our bodies. Children who have been taught to fiercely protect their private parts can, unintentionally, pick up on the stigma that those parts are ‘bad’ and potentially have difficulty with healthy intimacy later in life when it is consented and appropriate. Also, I felt the strong language in some of the sexual abuse prevention books almost makes it sound like it is the child’s obligation to defend themselves against a perpetrator. Now, surely we want our kids to defend themselves and speak up, speak out, and do everything possible to keep themselves safe, however, there needs to be appropriate emphasis on it not being the child’s fault and on them making sure they tell an adult no matter how embarrassing or what threats they may have heard. Some of the older books I’ve read made it sound so shameful to be touched inappropriately and fail to address the need to talk about any abuse that I wouldn’t read them to my kids for fear they would lay out so much shame the kids would be fearful to get help if they were abused. The harsh reality is, there may be a time and circumstance where our child is unable to protect his or herself from becoming a victim and they need to know we will not judge them, think they are bad, or think they failed somehow (like failing to prevent the abuse or protect themselves) if they come and tell us about it. Bottomline, get several resources, read them through yourself first, and decide how and what to say to your kids. I heard it recommended that children under 13 be told at least every 6 months about these type of safety rules because the younger they are, the quicker they forget. Thank you for being brave enough to share your story and thank you for taking the time to compile resources for readers to educate their kids. I will be checking out the resources you listed as the book I mentioned is geared 2-8 and my oldest is ready for new/more information. We will be adding a “tricky people” lesson to our fall/spring talks about staying safe.

    • Jodie
      Posted at 16:38h, 15 September

      Thank you for the additional information. If it’s okay with you, I’ll go ahead and add that book you mentioned to our blog post that lists resources to keep our kids safe so that other parents can be made aware of it. It has great reviews–I’ll probably purchase it for my kids! Thank you again for your input.

  • Jamie Jameson
    Posted at 09:21h, 16 January

    Thank you so much for posting on this topic and for the resources. I was disappointed to find my progressive, liberal, California library has none of these books and only a couple recommended by a friend who is a Licensed Family Social Worker. I did purchase a few books, but found they are full or close to full price on Amazon. Most books I can find for minimal cost + shipping. It concerns me that there is limited availability and prohibitive cost associated with books on childhood safety and development related to sexuality. Keep up the good work!

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