By LDS Family Services
Parents should be proactive in safeguarding their children against anything sexually deviant. Below are some ideas that can help empower parents by implementing measures to protect their children.
- Teach children the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39. Help them see that it is best to run from sin even if negative things happen as a result. Help them understand that to be “right” with God is more important than any other relationship, benefit, prestige, or honor on earth. Point out the great blessings from being “right” with God in their personal lives and the great blessings that eventually came to Joseph.
- Teach children that only one curious look may result in addiction to pornography. Encourage them to make a promise to themselves to never look at pornographic material and to always keep that promise.
- Teach children to avoid stories, TV shows, videos, songs, and movies that include infidelity and sexual acts. Show them how to look up information about movies before attending them and how to look up lyrics of music before purchasing the music.
- Help children walk through scenarios of temptation and peer pressure:
- A group of friends want to see a movie that includes sexual acts.
- You like the sound of a song that you know has lyrics about an unmarried couple having sex.
- For a “girl’s night out,” all the girls are dressing immodestly.
- Your friends want you to look at naked women or naked men on the Internet, pictures on their phone, or in magazines.
- You are texting friends when one responds with sexual obscenities.
- The billboard along the road shows a picture of a woman with little or no clothing.
- The dance team or play you are involved in requires you to dance or act suggestively (help children understand that even acting a part can weaken spiritual sensitivity).
- Parents should be aware of the content and date of sexual education in the schools their children attend. Schools usually allow parents to view the material prior to presenting it to the children. Many schools teach masturbation as normal and acceptable. Parents can take a stand over what is being taught. Parents should teach their children proper sex education, being open to questions, regardless of the discomfort the subject may bring. A good resource is the Church’s publication A Parent’s Guide (item no.31125).
- Parents will want to teach their children their personal right to say “NO” to relatives, family, teachers, peers, younger children, religious leaders, Scout leaders, and anyone else who would want to touch them in their private areas. Private areas can be defined to small children as the areas covered by a swimsuit. Give children permission to scream, fight, bite, kick, and do anything else they must do to get away from molestation. They should be instructed to tell an adult they trust about the attempt or incident.
- Teach children about the “buddy system” when in public areas. A good guideline is that children eight and under should have an adult accompany them in public. Children nine and older should take a friend with them when going to the bathroom, buying refreshments from a concession stand, and so on. Many schoolteachers allow students to use the restroom one at a time when class is in session. If the student feels uncomfortable with the presence of another student in the bathroom, he or she can wait outside of the bathroom until the child leaves. If the student sees an adult in the bathroom, the student should inform the teacher or one of the office staff.
- Teach your children not to accept rides, gifts, or candy from strangers without your approval. Children must see firsthand that you approve and not take a stranger’s word that “it’s okay with your mom.” Predetermining and reinforcing steps to take in an emergency will better equip your children to deal with situations (such as being home alone or being offered a ride) if they should occur.
- Teach your children how to fight “fleeting temptations,” which are seductive thoughts or images that quickly pop into one’s mind. Inappropriate thoughts can be replaced immediately with a pure thought or by focusing on a task at hand. If the thought persists, a good method to combat “fleeting temptations” is to immediately recite a poem, scripture, or articles of faith until the thought dissipates. Changing a “fleeting temptation” is similar to changing the television station.
- It is not uncommon for children to be sexually molested at sleepovers and campouts. A good idea is to remind your child about the “buddy system” when spending the night at a friend’s house, at camp, or on a campout. Also, ask your child to be aware of anyone who seems to be alone and invite that child to join their “buddy group.” Many children sleeping near each other throughout the night will most likely deter a perpetrator from singling one out. Warn your child to keep the buddy close when interacting with any member or guest of the household. Even if you, as a parent, are sure that no one in the home would do anything to any child, instances may still occur—it is always best to plan safe. There is a fine line between teaching our children to be safe, teaching them to be suspicious, or taking positive opportunities from them. Parents, through prayer and discussion, can find that fine line.
For additional information on discussing safety practices with your children, please click on the following links: