Talking to Children About Sex Offenders

Even very young children can begin to understand that a person who appears nice may have harmful intentions.

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How Do I Talk to My Kids About Sex Offenders?

Grade-schoolers can begin to understand that a person who appears nice can have harmful intentions.

Tell your child that while most people care about children and would help them in any situation, a few people hurt children.

Stress to her the importance of being cautious of people she doesn’t know.

She should not walk or ride bikes in the neighborhood without adult supervision, or if old enough, she should only do so in the company of two or more friends.

If there is a registered sex offender in your neighborhood, tell your child that a person who was in prison lives nearby.

Use the opportunity to point this person out to your child and tell her to stay away from him.

Answering Your Child’s Questions

Many children will accept your directions for steering clear of a person you have identified in this manner. Others will have questions, and you should be prepared to explain further. If you don’t, your child will simply find someone else to ask. The only way to be sure that your children are getting clear, correct answers is to provide those answers yourself.

However, many parents still feel unsure about exactly how to navigate such important conversations. OffenderWatch® is here to provide guidance on how you can communicate openly with children of all ages about staying safe in a world where not everyone is worthy of their trust.

Child: What did he do?

Parent: He touched the child inappropriately.
Parent: No, he touched her private area, close to where she goes to the bathroom. That’s not okay; it’s a crime.

Child: Why did he do that?

Parent: Some things you won’t understand until you’re older, and this is one of them. I don’t completely understand it myself.

Further Precautions

Even after your explanation and warning, you might need to see that an adult escorts your child and her friends home from school, and you may want to keep her from roaming the neighborhood on her bicycle. If approached by the individual in question, tell your child to get away quickly. She should let you know what happened when she gets home or tell an adult nearby, or if she has a cell phone, she should call you. Here are some more basic safety tips:

Teach your child to trust her feelings and say NO and run away from a situation that doesn’t feel right.

Explain that there are some strangers that can assist her if she needs help – other parents with children, other children, police in uniform or store clerks in the mall.

Teach her to dial 911.

What If My Child Is Contacted by a Registered Sex Offender?

Do not attempt to confront the individual yourself. Every citizen has certain fundamental rights, and taking such matters into your own hands may accomplish nothing more than creating difficulty for you and your family.

If an individual's behavior toward your child seems inappropriate, contact your local law enforcement agency to report your concerns. Save any emails and text messages or screenshot any communication through Snapchat®, and submit these items to officers along with your report. If you have received an email or postcard notice about a particular offender, contact the local agency listed on the notice or call your county sheriff’s office. These law enforcement professionals will handle the investigation, and can do so without jeopardizing any potential criminal case that could result.