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Parents are first line of defense in child safety

web posted July 16, 2007
OPINION – With the recent arrest of Nicki Smith on allegations of sexual assault, Sheriff Adell Dobey issued a press release stating any business that provides services to children should be checked out before allowing your children to participate. We agree. This should not be limited to karate or dance classes, but any program – including those offered by government agencies. Know about those whom you are turning over the care or training of your children.

Ask if the owner runs background checks as a condition of employment. Any business or program requires the parents to fill out paperwork containing personal information about you and your child. You should request the same from those operating the program. If your service provider refuses to oblige your request you may want to ask yourself why.

Ask for references and verify the references. It may also be a good idea to check into the person or businesses referenced to make sure they are in good standing with the community.

Parents can take advantage of the public access of police and court records to see if the person or persons operating the business or program have a criminal history. There can be costs associated to obtaining records.

It is also advisable to check with the local Chamber of Commerce to see if the business is a member or to see if complaints or grievances have been filed with the agency about the business.

Be observant to subtle changes in your child’s behavior and willingness to attend classes, programs, or to be left with a caregiver. Sometimes children will be reluctant to tell an adult or parent about inappropriate activity because of the activity being perpetrated by an adult or other responsible person the parents approve of and is therefore, in the eyes of the child, deemed trustworthy.

These are only a few of the things parents should do before allowing someone from outside of their family to have access to their children. This would include babysitters, daycares, after school programs, dance, piano, or karate classes to name a few.

Due to the heightened awareness of reported crimes against children being on the rise and the age difference of students and teachers, instructors, and caregivers narrowing - parents cannot be too safe or too careful.

It is up to parents to insure the safety of their own children. By the time it is reported to police your child is already a victim. Take preventative measures to ensure the safety and welfare of your children. You are the first life of defense in preventing crimes against them.


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