Best Practice #2 is focused on who has access to children. In Best Practice #3 you'll see our focus change to establishing boundaries relating to the behavior of those who have been granted access.
If you are a parent, you have the responsibility to protect your children from sexual abuse. You have both the legal responsibility as well as a moral obligation. Although there are situations where you may want to delegate that responsibility such as when your children are at school, you still have the obligation to ensure the safety of all situations you put your child in. This responsibility cannot be delegated. While it is always our hope that family members work together to protect their children, 30-40% of child sexual abuse happens at the hands of a family member(5) which means you also have the responsibility to protect your children from your parents, your siblings, your spouse and even your other children, if necessary.
As a child advocate your community members will look up to you, providing you a chance to model what it looks like to effectively manage access to children. Whether they are your own children, children in your inner circle or children that you are educating and empowering through your advocacy work, it is your responsibility to manage and minimize private access to children, setting a good example.
We grant child molesters access to our kids. It's tough to hear but it is a reality. Every time you send your children to school, soccer, piano lessons, or the neighbor's house or hire a babysitter to come into your house, you have potentially given a child molester access to your precious children. You have potentially put your children in extreme danger that could change the course of their lives and they may never tell.(6) Your kids are counting on you to make conscious choices about who you allow to be with them.
We grant child molesters access to our kids and our kids are counting on us
to make conscious choices about who we allow to be with them.
We recommend that parents limit the number of adults who have private access to their kids to 5 or less – mom, dad, maybe grandma, your neighbor and your nanny. While it won't result in a drastic difference if you choose to go with 6 people, the process of committing to a small specific limit requires you to stop and evaluate the need for another person to have access. This makes it a conscious choice rather than just letting it happen based on convenience or opportunity. Commit the limit to memory with a visual image - hold up one hand and use your 5 fingers as a reminder.
Child molesters seek opportunity so it is critically important that you understand how child molesters groom kids, families, organizations, and communities in order to gain private access. When you leave your kids with another adult or organization such as a school or sports league, it is your responsibility to ask the right questions to ensure that they avoid private access to your kids and that they have the proper boundaries in place to minimize risk. Even semi-private access with one adult and multiple kids can pose a danger so those choices should be conscious as well.
As a child advocate, it is important that you manage private access to your own kids and teach others to do the same. It is also important that you minimize your own private access to other kids in your inner circle by only agreeing to it if you have had an in-depth discussion about the 5 person limit. Together you may decide that there is a good reason for you to be one of the 5 people to be granted access to someone else's child but it is an active and conscious choice by both of you.
You may also elect to offer some education and empowerment programs for children as part of your advocacy work. If this is the case, it is important that you plan and staff the event in a manner that does not require or even allow private access to children.