How to talk with your children about sex offenders

How to talk with your children about sex offenders

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - OffenderWatch offers the following tips for parents on how to talk with children about sex offenders. You can view all the active Tier III registered sex offenders in Southwest Louisiana HERE.

• Kids are particularly vulnerable to sex offenders, so open communication between parents and children is vital.

• If a picture is available from the local law enforcement's website, show it to your family.

• In general terms, tell your children that this person has hurt someone before but avoid scary details.

• Explain to them that they should stay away from this individual.

• The purpose behind community notification is to reduce the chance of future victimization by better informing the public.

• Avoid scary details. Include general information when speaking to children. You know more than your child needs to know. Use language that is honest and age-appropriate (e.g. "there are people who do bad things to children").

• If your children could possibly have contact with a registered sex offender, you should show your children the sex offender's photo. In a manner that does not incite panic: instruct your children to avoid contact with the offender, even if the offender's offenses of conviction does not involve an offense against a child. Instruct them to avoid being in the vicinity of the offender's residence or workplace.

• Encourage your children to tell you if the sex offender initiates contact with them. Review the public safety materials with your children.

• Encourage your children to tell you about any contact from any other person who makes them feel uncomfortable. It is important to teach your children about appropriate and inappropriate contact and to encourage regular discussion about their interactions with other people.

• Teach your children: DON'T take rides from strangers; DON'T harass or visit any sex offender's home or yard; DO tell a safe adult if anyone acts inappropriately toward them (e.g. creepy, too friendly, threatening, offering gifts in a secret way, or touching them); DO RUN, SCREAM, and GET AWAY if someone is bothering them; DON'T keep secrets; DON'T assist strangers; DON'T go places alone; DO ask questions and DO talk about any uncomfortable feelings or interactions.

• Make it a habit to LISTEN to your children and to believe them. If a child feels listened to and believed in about small everyday things, they are more likely to share the big scary things with you. Be sensitive to changes in your child's behavior. Pay attention to your child's feelings.