GOOSE CREEK—Any parent who watches television or reads newspapers is aware of the threat of child predators. The Immaculate Conception MOMS Club, a local chapter of an international organization designed to provide support for stay-at-home mothers, educated its members about child safety on July 12.
Officer Jim Guest, a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer with the local police department, spoke to the mothers and their children about ways to stay safe. He also addressed the need for children to protect their bodies and to report any incidences of inappropriate physical contact.
Guest explained that predators aren’t always strangers; they can be people that the child knows. And seemingly friendly strangers who ask for help or offer a gift may intend to harm the child.
Guest suggested the use of the buddy system to help stop predators.
“Bad guys usually look for children who are by themselves,” he said. “And moms, don’t even let your kids walk down the block by themselves. At least watch them as they walk down the street. It is in that one short moment that they could turn up missing.” Guest said that one of his biggest pet peeves is when parents turn police officers into bad guys. “So often I have been in the grocery store and have heard a parent say, ‘If you don’t behave I’ll have that man arrest you.’ ”
“Kids have developed such a fear of us that when we are there to help they are too afraid to speak up,” he said. “Let them know that when they see a badge it is a good thing.”
Always report unusual activity to police officers, too, said Guest. If you see a man who just hangs out at the park and doesn’t have any kids, let the police know. It may end up being nothing — or it may save a child’s life.
Parents interested in obtaining information or having their children fingerprinted should contact their local police departments. Wal-Mart stores also offer free fingerprinting at their annual Baby Fair.