Parents, take care with your children all the timeThe message that parents should always be careful about where their kids go and with whom they spend time is something we should all remember.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Mother of three Tarissa Saice may not have gotten her bus stop moved when a sex offender took up residence near her home, but she’s certainly garnering a fair amount of support.
Not all of it is helpful.
Advocating violence is never OK. Wiser are the messages that encourage Saice to continue to contact city and school officials, such as this one from Lacey Laakso on the Pine Journal’s Facebook page: “Stay focused, they will fix it! The squeaky wheel ...”
She leaves the rest unsaid, but the message is clear. Hammer elected officials with letters, appearances and phone calls, and they will
Ideally that response would be hopeful and not knee jerk.
Granted, no one would choose to have a sex offender take up residence down the street. But speaking as someone who moved to Cloquet and ended up living three doors away from someone who was later convicted of abusing an 8-year-old girl, the message that parents should always be careful about where their kids go and with whom they spend time is something we should all remember.
The stories of children abused by adults trusted by a family are many, whether it’s a relative, a religious official, a coach, a neighbor or troop leader. There are no signs emblazoned on the forehead of sex offenders, no typical look. Therefore parents must be responsible for their children. They must talk with them, even when the subject matter isn’t comfortable. Get to know the parents of your child’s friend before you send them on an overnight or even a playdate. Communicate, communicate,
Experts also have the following advice to offer:
• Listen to your children and pay attention if they don’t want to be with someone. Beware adults who insist on hugging, touching or tickling a child when a child doesn’t want affection. Look out for someone who insists on time alone with a child, or who seems more interested in spending most of his/her spare time with children rather than peers.
• Notice anyone who provides or gives special favors to your child.
• Teach your children they can say “no” to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, no matter who is making the request.
• Watch your children and their friends, interact with them. Pay particular attention to changes in behavior, mood swings and regression in behavior.
Other behavioral signs to look for in your child include:
-Spacing out at odd times
-Nightmares, difficulty sleeping
-Fear or sudden dislike of certain people or places
-Sexual behavior with toys or other children
-New words for private body parts
-Drawings that are scary or use a lot of black/red
-Talk of new older friend
-Suddenly having money
-Older child exhibits behavior typical of younger children (bed wetting, thumb sucking)
-Answering "I can't tell you"
There are even more tips in the "Sex offender informational presentation" attached to this story.
Focus your energies on protecting children. And keep in mind that Minnesota law does allow an offender to live in a community after serving his court-imposed sentence. An offender should be allowed to work or get training, education and treatment, get groceries, do laundry, go to church and seek medical care … free of harassment.