Youth Protection: Keep Your Guard Up!
By: Jennifer Fletcher
Posted On: 2011-11-16
I’m sure you’re already well aware of the (legally I have to use the term “alleged” but it sickens me to do so) abuse cases surrounding the assistant coach at Penn State. If not, my apologies but you’ll have to look it up; I’m not going to detail it here. The more I learn about this case the more nauseated I become and the more determined I am to keep my kids and all the other kids safe from predators.
The children in the afore-mentioned situation all had one major thing in common: they were all part of an at-risk youth group. That group could have been anything – Scouts, sports teams, choir groups, you name it – which means we parents have to be on our toes and ever-watchful.
Now, more than ever, we need to step up and start playing a major role in our kids’ lives. We need to know where our kids are going and who they will be with. But we need to be paying even closer attention to the kids: know your child well enough that you can immediately recognize any – even the slightest – change in her/him. Is your son wearing the same clothes he left home in? Was your daughter’s hair up or down when she left with her friends? We have to be vigilant in this fight because our kids won’t be; they’re in a phase where they think nothing bad can happen to them. Ah, that sweet innocence….
I hate to admit it but I am a little paranoid of every adult my kids come into contact with. I have to be – those adult positions I grew up knowing as “trusted” are constantly popping in the news with a slew of child-related charges following their names. Clergy, teachers, coaches, day-care providers, you name it. Even neighbors and family members aren’t safe from my scrutiny; I have to be my kids’ champion, protector and defender when it comes to their safety. All parents should be as careful. The moment we let our guards down is the moment we fail our kids. I would prefer to needlessly be too careful than the alternative.
I’ll bet some of you reading this are thinking “I don’t have time to constantly monitor my kid’s every come-and-go!” I can understand that. In this economy we’re all busy busting our humps to make ends meet. Many homes are dual- or even triple-income families. Lots of kids leave for school after their parents leave for work and get home before their parents do. But let me ask you this: is your child’s well-being worth the price you and he/she will pay if you don’t constantly monitor? I seriously doubt it.
I will be honest: as a mother I had a really tough time writing this post. Finding the right way to say what wanted to say without letting my emotions get in the way was probably the hardest part of this post. My boys are the same age as that coach’s (alleged) victims. I can’t say I would be as calm as their parents have managed to be, in light of the situation. I beg you: please, please protect your children! Talk to your kids and be someone they are comfortable confiding in. Teach them what to do if they are in a situation that feels wrong. And if you suspect a child is a victim of any kind of abuse, stand up for that child. If you can, step in and stop it. Otherwise, alert any authority who will listen to you and take action. Knowledge of wrongs against a child without doing anything to fix the situation is just as bad as committing the wrong itself.