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  • Writer's pictureThe M Word Consulting


With many cases and plenty of media coverage around teachers and coaches taking advantage of young children, parents may be considering whether it’s okay to trust adults alone with their children; whether that adult is a coach, mentor, teacher or family friend.

Take Larry Nassar, for instance, who was a University doctor well known for treating top Olympic gymnasts. He was sentenced to over 100 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing more than 160 athletes. So as a parent or guardian, how do you help to protect your child and establish appropriate boundaries?

👉Start The Conversation Early

Help your child identify safe adults. Ask your child who they feel comfortable talking to if they are worried or concerned about themselves or someone else.

👉 Set Boundaries

Explain to your child that everyone has their own comfort levels when it comes to physical contact and personal space. Children should not be forced to hug or kiss a family member or other adult if they do not want to. Allowing your child to voice their boundaries teaches them that it’s okay to say no and that there are other forms of affection, such as a wave, high five or fist bump.

👉 Be Clear On What’s Appropriate vs. Inappropriate

Kids can have perfectly healthy relationships with grown adults. For example, with an appropriate adult-child relationship, this means that the adult respects the child and their boundaries, uses respectful language and tone and keeps communication transparent. Inappropriate behaviour can include an adult asking a child to keep a secret, making inappropriate jokes or comments, offering alcohol or drugs or sharing sexual material such as photos or messages.

👉 Tell Your Child To Trust Their Gut

Your child should know that if something feels uncomfortable or wrong, then it probably is. Remind your child that if these things ever happen to them or someone that your child knows, they won’t be in trouble if they tell.

👉 Have a Daily Check-In With Your Child

Especially if your child is involved in after-school activities like a sport, band or club, it’s important to know what’s going on. Try asking your child open-ended questions about their day, including what they did at recess and during class. Give them a chance to express their successes, questions or concerns. Let them know that you want to learn what’s important to them, and that it’s okay to feel frustrated, upset or sad about something.

👉 Keep Your Cool

Your child might disclose something to you that you don’t want to hear, and that’s okay. As a parent or guardian, your child will look up to you, especially in how you react to difficult situations. We understand that your child’s safety and well-being is important. Your child might disclose something that makes you feel emotional or overwhelmed. Acknowledge that your child is doing the right thing by always telling you the truth.

One “secret” is too many, one boundary crossed is too many and, as always, one child is too many 👊🏼👊🏼👊🏼


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