Have you ever met a child molester?
I have. In fact, I’ve even been good friends with one. Of course I had no idea at the time. And he’s in prison now. That experience, coupled with having personally worked with kids who have been molested, makes me a hyper vigilant parent.
Heaven help anyone who EVER tries to mess with my kids!
I am recently re-reading a book called The Shack by WM. Paul William. Of course, I just HAD to read it while also taking my children on a camping trip, not something I suggest you do. By all means, take your kids camping! And you should definitely read The Shack, if you haven’t already (it’s a VERY good book)! Just read it sometime during the winter when it’s nice and cold and you won’t be camping for a while.
That said, I had some time to think about things while we were enjoying our camping trip, watching my kids swimming, taking walks through the campgrounds, and sharing the public bathroom facilities with other campers. As with most parents, I’m pretty passionate about protecting my precious children. When I think back to when I was a 9 year old kid in a small Midwestern town, spending all day at the pool or playing at the park with my best friend, I shudder…ALL day! Alone! Were my parents crazy!?
No. No they weren’t. In fact, they were more protective than most of my friends’ parents. Of course I had to check in throughout the day and my mom knew where I was and nothing bad ever happened. But in today’s world full of reports of kidnappings, child predators and the like, I can hardly let my children walk 2 blocks to the local library, without wondering if I’m being overly protective because I worry about them the whole time. Even so, I only let them go together and they have to call me the second they get there. If they are 2 minutes late, I’m practically ready to call the police.
However, in all honesty, although “stranger danger” is definitely a reality we have to deal with, most child predators prey on children they know and have easy access to. But, if predators are not easy to recognize, how can we trust anyone with our children without being paranoid and suspicious of absolutely everyone? And how can we, as parents, protect our children without locking them in a box?
First of all, I pray a lot for wisdom and continuously try to yield my worst fears for them to God. Secondly, it’s important to get educated. The more you know what to look for and what guidelines to set in place, the more proactive you can be, which will help mitigate fears and the urge to become obsessively overprotective.
Below is a link to a very good article that lists 10 ways to recognize a predator. It also lists some educational facts that are extremely helpful. I encourage you to read it. The more educated and watchful parents there are, the less chances predators will have to prey on their targets.