April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Almost seven years ago, we kicked this month off with a series of child abuse prevention training sessions across the state of Delaware. Now, the Beau Biden for the Protection of Children has grown to be a leading voice in child abuse prevention resources and training and has grown to have programs and partnerships in twenty- four states (and counting).
This month, we remind everyone that it is critical for all adults – parents, caretakers, families, teachers, counselors, and coaches – to support and protect children every day.
Here are a few quick tips and resources to help keep children safe:
- Ongoing and age-appropriate conversations with children and teens are key to their protection. Open and honest discussions about abuse, sexual abuse, healthy relationships, and online safety help establish and build trust. Maintaining that trust may lead a child in trouble to open up to you in the future. Just be sure to react calmly and responsibly should a child divulge their abuse or online interactions with a predator. Our free eBook – Seven Things You Don’t Know About Your Child’s Digital Life – can help you get the conversation started.
FAST FACT: Most children are exposed to pornography by the time they are 11-years-old.
- Find out what your child’s school or cam is doing to protect children from abuse. It is imperative that schools and youth-serving organizations adhere to the best practices and policies in child protection and have a well-established and published Code of Conduct – specifically every organization must commit that all interactions with children be continuously observable and able to be interrupted at any time. The Beau Biden Foundation’s Shield of Protection® has helped schools across the country ensure they have the best practices, policies, and training to keep children safe. Ask your child’s school if they have training and policies in place that address a child’s safety. If not, ask them to contact the Beau Biden Foundation.Learn more about the Shield of Protection at www.BeauBidenFoundation.org/ShieldOfProtection.
DID YOU KNOW: Reports to Child Abuse Hotlines dropped by nearly 50% while children and teachers were out of physical the classroom during COVID-19 restrictions. Why? Because teachers, counselors, and school personnel are among the number one reporters of abuse. Without seeing their students regularly, these frontline professionals could not recognize the signs of abuse and make the call to get that child the help they need.
- Know and check the apps children and teens are using on their digital devices. Potential harm can come from anywhere — social media and online gaming apps open doors to child predators. Knowing how children and teens spend their time on their smartphones or tablets (and with whom) is critical in keeping them safe. A list of 16+ Apps Parents Need to Know is available here to help you navigate this ever-changing digital landscape.
DID YOU KNOW: Federal and local law enforcement agencies are working together to track down and apprehend child predators through popular social media and gaming apps. These joint efforts have led to thousands of arrests. Charges include: Luring a Minor; Attempted Child Abuse, Neglect, or Endangerment; Engaging In Solicitation for Prostitution of a Child; and Facilitating Sex Trafficking. These criminals range in age from early 20s to late 60s.
- Know the acronyms children and teens are using in their chats – predators are using them, too. Learning and recognizing some of these critical codes and acronyms can save a child from a predator. You’re probably familiar with “LOL” (Laugh Out Loud) or “SMH” (Shake My Head), but there are many more acronyms that predators use to chat with children and teens to “KPC” (Keep Parents Clueless) when they “WTTP.” Read our blog – 30 Acronyms Parents Need to Know – to help familiarize yourself with these terms: 30 Acronyms Parents Need to Know.
- Know the signs of grooming. Be on the lookout for requests for images, videos, personal information from a child, or to connect in a private chat. These requests, even seemingly innocent ones, could be a predator testing a child. Other questions to keep in mind are: Is the child often making a deal or exchange for game tokens/currency? Is the child being lured into a private chat? Are they keeping secrets or say they have a “special friendship” with someone new online? Does the child suddenly have new items like clothing, jewelry, or a phone that you did not buy for them? Our free eBook – Online Predators: What You Need To Know To Protect Your Child Today – can help you recognize the signs of grooming and offers more advice on how to combat online predators.
FAST FACT: There are anywhere between 500,000 – 700,000 child predators online each day. One in 5 children reports being solicited or contacted by a predator.
- What to do if your child has already sent an explicit photo or fallen victim to an online predator or cyberbully? If your child is being solicited to send personal information, help them to say ‘no’ and move on, and report the other user(s) involved. If the child has received a request for explicit photos or videos, immediately report it to law enforcement.If the child is being cyberbullied, or if there’s an immediate threat or risk of harm, call 911– otherwise seek the assistance of the school counselor, make a report on the platform being used, and preserve any evidence (i.e. screenshot, save chat). As always, if you have reasonable suspicion of abuse, please click here to find the child abuse reporting line in your area and make the call.
As we often say, the keys to protecting children are not complicated. Adults need to continue talking to children. The tips above are a start in the conversations and one way to ensure children can grow up safe in a world free from abuse.