Listen to your children. Pay attention if they tell you they don’t want to be with someone or go somewhere.
Take the time to talk with your children. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener.
Notice when someone shows one or all of your children a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts.
Talk to your children about the person, and find out why that person is acting in this way.
Teach your children they have the right to say NO to any touch or actions by others that make them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused and to get out of those situations as quickly as possible. If avoidance is not an option, teach your children to kick, scream, and resist. When in such a situation, teach them to loudly yell, “This person is not my father/mother/guardian,” and immediately tell you or another trusted adult. Reassure them you’re there to help and it is OK to tell you anything.
Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behavior or attitude. Encourage open communication, and learn how to be an active listener.
Look and listen to small cues and clues indicating something may be troubling your children because children are not always comfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings. Some children may not be able to tell because they have been told — by a child molester or exploiter — bad things will happen if they tell what has occurred.
Some children may be coerced into activity they didn’t at first understand to be inappropriate and/or don’t know how to end. Children may be especially fearful of being punished, being embarrassed, or experiencing the loss of the love and respect of their family members and friends.
If your children do confide in you about problems they may be having, strive to remain calm, reassuring, and nonjudgmental. Listen compassionately to their concern, and work with them to get the help they need to resolve the problem.
Be sure to screen babysitters and caregivers. Check references with other families who have used the caregiver or babysitter. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask your children how the experience with the caregiver was, and carefully listen to the responses.
Provide oversight and supervision of your children’s use of computers and the Internet. Know who they’re communicating with online and where they may have access to the Internet. Establish rules and guidelines for computer and Internet use for your children.
Be involved in your children’s activities. As an active participant you’ll have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. If you are concerned about anyone’s behavior, discuss your concerns with the sponsoring organization
This article was excerpted from http://www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC128.pdf