With schools out for the year, parents and others have their own homework to do to keep their – and all – children safe from abuse and neglect. That’s because child abuse – physical, sexual, and emotional, is typically higher in summer than the rest of the year.
The reasons are numerous but all boil down to the singular fact that children are not in school where there are protections, at least somewhat, for most of the day.
So it’s time for all of us to be more vigilant, to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of abuse. For a refresher on what to look for, visit here. It’s time, too, to ensure due diligence in your child’s summer activities.
During summer, children spend time at camps, pools, sports clinics, in team sports, and with other caregivers. These are all great for exercise, developing problem-solving skills, learning how to get along with others and building self-confidence and self-reliance, but it’s wise for parents to do their homework before handing their children over to people they do not know.
Odds are, the camps and sports programs employ proven, trustworthy people, but the risk of a single child hurt or exploited is a risk too great. Especially considering that one in 10 boys and girls will be sexually abused by the time they are 18, and that people who seek to abuse kids often pursue roles that place them in close proximity to children.
Do your homework. Ask babysitters, camp directors, daycares and sports leaders for copies of background checks, and not just of the staff members, but of volunteers, too. You want to be sure the most qualified – and vetted – person is going to be taking care of your precious children.
Ask if they have a policy about at least two adults at all times as well. Check that children are not left alone with people one-on-one. It’s safer for the child and, frankly, for the caregivers and adults.
If it’s a sleepaway camp, ask who is sleeping in what cabin? Who supervises the showers? Can you as a parent or caregiver drop in unannounced? Can the kids call home anytime they feel the need? These are critical questions, and if you run into a camp that gets defensive when you ask these questions, run away as far and fast as you can.
Doing your homework now will help ensure your kids are safer and let you feel more comfortable about leaving them with others.
Summertime activities provide great programs for young boys and girls, but only if protections are in place that ensures their safety along with the fun. Leave the fun to them, but do the homework to guarantee it is safe fun.