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Safely Ever After: Educating Children About Child Predators

Instead of approaching the topic seriously, which could instill panic and fear into a child, parents should casually talk about it while they are doing normal, everyday things, like driving to the park or shopping in the mall. Avoid using scary words; use expressions like "tricky people" in place of "child predators."

The point of educating children about child predators is to make them more aware of their surroundings, not to make them afraid. The "doom and gloom" method can have a negative impact, since the goal is to inform children and teach them how to look out for themselves if they feel threatened, not to make them afraid of the world. One effective technique Fitzgerald talks about using with kids is the thumbs up/thumbs down method. When talking about safe people, give them a thumbs up. This includes people and situations that are safe, fun, and do not harm a child in any way. A thumbs down includes any person or situation that is harmful or breaks the rules.

"Parents tend to go overboard when talking to their children about a topic like this, because it is a topic that scares them, and rightfully so," explains Fitzgerald. She points out that news and media coverage have sensationalized these situations, making the problem with child predators seem more widespread than it used to be. Although people talk about it more, child predators are no more prevalent today then they were 15 or 20 years ago. It is important to inform children, but being overprotective and approaching this topic too seriously will not help a child in the long run.

Pattie Fitzgerald is the founder and creator of Safely Ever After, Inc. and has been teaching child safety awareness since 2001. Parents, teachers, and school administrators specifically request her Safely Ever After programs because they present important and accurate information in a calm and humorous way. Being a mom herself, Fitzgerald knows this take is important, especially when dealing with kids and when talking about a topic that can scare them. For more information on Pattie Fitzgerald's Safely Ever After Program, visit her website at www.safelyeverafter.com.



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