Like you, I’m sure, I’ve been horrified at the emerging story about the ‘roast busters‘ here in New Zealand. It seems like every day, there’s a more horrifying dimension to the story – from the attitude of the offenders to the inaction of the police. I’m mum to three girls and the thought of them being exposed to this kind of experience is almost too awful to contemplate. Right now, I’ve been thinking about ways that I can help my daughters stay safe out there. 

Let me be clear here: I certainly don’t want to give any idea that the girls are to blame for the actions of these predatory young men. The responsibility is the offenders’ and theirs alone. But I know that as my girls grow older, I’ll be talking to them about ways to protect themselves from such devastating experiences. Here are some of the things we’ll be talking about:

  • Where they are going and who they are going with. As children get older, this gets harder and harder but don’t be afraid to push your children on this one. I’ve heard wise people say that they always offer to drop off / pick up their children from parties. It’s a drag, especially if it’s late at night, but it’s an excellent way to maintain a connection with your children at a potentially vulnerable moment.
  • What to do if you feel uncomfortable. Teenagers get themselves into lots of situations that they don’t really mean to get into and it’s essential to have an ‘escape plan’. Just as you do for fire when they are small, help your kids to have a plan to get out of trouble. This could include:
    • A ‘code word’ – if they call and use the code word, you know that they need help. It can be a way of asking for help in front of others and saving face in front of their friends
    • A safe place or person to go to
    • Alternative people to call if mum or dad are unavailable / inaccessible
    • Some emergency money
    • A bit of basic self-defense – vulnerable body parts and lots of noise!
  • Safety online. Oh this is such a big one these days and I’ll write more about it soon! In the meantime, you can read more on our site about internet safety. However, I think it’s really important to talk to your children about the fact that today’s digital world is a potentially permanent record of things that they may not like recorded.
    • Encourage your children to think hard about the image that they portray online and how they might feel about a potential employer seeing this sometime in the future.
    • Consider helping your children use a fake name for interacting on the Internet. This will mean that when people are searching their real name, their awkward moments can’t be seen.
    • Follow basic Internet safety rules that include:
      • Don’t ‘friend’ anyone who you don’t know in real life
      • Un-friend anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable
      • Never give out your address / phone number / email address over the Internet unless you are sure you know the person you are giving it to
      • Tell an adult if something happens that you are uncomfortable with.

This has been a huge story in our media over the last week or so and I’m sure that many parents, as I am, are feeling scared and vulnerable for their children. Of course, the VERY BEST THING that we can all do, is keep talking to our kids. Keep the lines of communication open and always make sure your kids know how much you love them. That’s what I’ll be working on with my tribe this week.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you’ll be talking to your kids to help them stay safe.

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Rochelle is mum to three gorgeous daughters. She wishes she had more time to garden and read the newspaper in peace!

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HE4ME

Ah…Don’t Drink! would be top of my list. Don’t accept drinks from anyone and don’t leave your non-alcoholic drinks anywhere they could get spiked.

Rochelle Gribble

If only more teens would listen to that advice!

Michelle

In addition, I’d add the need to raise all our children to know what consent means and to be the ones who stand up for others when they think their friends are vulnerable. Here’s one mum’s version:
http://askmoxie.org/blog/2013/03/a-letter-to-my-sons-about-stopping-rape.html

Rochelle Gribble

Thanks Michelle – excellent point! It’s too easy to stand by when you see something and you don’t know how to handle it. I like the way that this mother has given her child really specific strategies – so important, I think!

Angela

A massive topic Rochelle and there is much to work through as the parent of a teenage I imagine. I think I need to start planning now! I have read a few things in my short time as a parent about the importance of parents being fully involved in their teenagers’ lives, such as you touched on particularly in the first point. Teenagers may act as though they want you to butt out, but you are needed now more than ever, and deep down the teenagers know it. The main question I have had in this ghastly story is “where… Read more »

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Angela – yes indeed, a massive topic. It was hard to know where even to begin! I reckon it’s important to start ‘doing’ now as well as thinking (as you are, of course!). The roots of this kind of behaviour don’t begin at 15… they begin with small children… Regarding the parents, I *sort of* agree. I do think that it’s quite possible for all kinds of kids to end up in situations that they didn’t intend to. I’ve seen all kinds of ‘nice’ kids from ‘good’ families with great parents end up in trouble. They follow along; make… Read more »

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