Protecting Your Children

On July 29, 1994, Richard and Maureen Kanka had their lives shattered when their 7-year old daughter Megan was lured into a neighbor's home with the hopes of seeing his puppy. Shortly after, thirty yards from her front doorstep, Megan Kanka was raped and murdered.

Child molesters have well-developed techniques for luring victims. They are able to seduce children with attention, affection and gifts; have hobbies and interests appealing to children; and may show sexually explicit videos or pictures to children. Generally, they are skilled at identifying vulnerable victims and are able to identify better with children than adults.

In addition to arming yourself with information, teach your children to avoid situations that put them in danger of abuse, molestation or abduction. Help protect your child by establishing a home environment where your child feels safe to tell you anything, without fear of shame, ridicule or punishment.

A safe and supportive home environment, combined with clear instructions about what behavior is acceptable and what is not, will guide your child's actions and encourage your child to tell you if something improper happens.

Many parents warn their children not to talk to strangers. But more often than not, an abuser or abductor is known to the child. He or she can be a school bus driver, teacher, relative, neighbor, or family friend. Many times the molestation occurs in the home of the victim or the abuser.

It is best to teach your child to avoid certain situations or actions. Children should know from an early age that some behavior is not acceptable, and that they have the right to tell an adult to leave them alone when confronted with that behavior.

Here are some specific rules you can teach your child:
  • Stay away from people who call you near their car, even if they offer to take you somewhere exciting.
  • If someone tries to take you away, yell, "This person is not my father (or mother)" and scream.
  • If you get lost in a store, find another mom with children or go to the checkout counter. Don't wander around on your own.
  • You don't have to keep secrets from your parents. No one can hurt your parents or pets if you tell what happened.
  • No one should touch you in the parts covered by your bathing suit, and you should not be asked to touch anyone there.
  • Don't let anyone take your picture without permission from your parents or teacher.