Family Summer Safety Tips Part 2 –Restroom Safety!!

Family Summer Safety Tips Part 2 –Restroom Safety!!

Part 2 in my series for the Centre Daily Times, State College, PA

  An important summer safety rule is to drink lots of liquids, but we all know what that means — bathroom breaks. When you’re traveling and nature calls you may not have time to be choosy but there’s always time to be careful, especially when traveling with children.

The best option is to use the “family restroom.” A single stall with its own entry provides privacy and security; a stall designated for people with disabilities may fit the bill.

Stay with a child until about age 8 or 9 in a multiple toilet facility even if the child has hit the “I can do it myself” stage. As children get older, they should still be kept within range for you to see or hear them.

Things get more complicated when the child and adult are not the same gender.

Boys traveling with mothers reach an age when they hate being dragged into a ladies’ room. Too bad. Sex offenders watch for this when seeking targets. Never accept an offer from a seemingly nice guy to keep an eye on your son. If you notice a family where a man leaves his wife and takes his son to the men’s room, consider asking him to keep an eye on your son. It’s difficult to imagine someone hurting a child with his own as a witness, but use the 300-second rule. This means setting a time limit of 300 seconds for a trip to the men’s room. Both of you should start counting together, and do not hesitate to walk in if you reach 301. Always be aware of your child’s location and keep your eyes glued to the exit.

Men traveling with girls have a bigger problem because urinals are rarely in stalls. Girls old enough to be out of diapers are old enough to recognize that men are urinating. Dads can carry a little girl into a restroom, shielding her eyes, and head right to stall with a door. Because of this, girls may age out of accompanying their fathers at a younger age than boys with their mothers. When this happens, consider asking a mother heading into the ladies room with her kids to watch your daughter. And still play the counting game.

Teens need to be reminded that drug users, purse snatchers and sex offenders are among the unsavory people that can operate in a restroom. Remind teens to scope out restrooms with caution and common sense. Parents may feel more at ease if there are a dozen people lined up for the facility. Bad guys (or gals) don’t operate well with witnesses. On the other hand, if the crowd is all teens, consider finding another option for your younger child. Teen judgment is not fully developed and this can lead to the occasional cruel or stupid act.

Common sense should rule. Kids need to learn that life is not always totally safe. Discussing restroom safety is a great opportunity to teach your child to be aware and cautious.

Janet Rosenzweig is the author of “The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent’s Guide Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids about Sex, Abuse, and Bullying” and a 30-year veteran of child-welfare and youth-serving programs (www.SexWiseParent.com). This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/07/17/3690651/communities-that-care-restroom.html#storylink=cpy
CentreDaily.com
Family Summer Safety Tips:  Part 1 ~ Discuss safety rules prior to family vacation

Family Summer Safety Tips: Part 1 ~ Discuss safety rules prior to family vacation

The long-awaited vacation is almost here; you’ve spent months researching, planning and saving, and you can’t wait to have some well-deserved down time with your family. Spend a few more minutes planning for safety and improve the odds that the vacation will be everything you want it to be.

Safety starts at check-in: Good desk clerks never announce a room number; they will hand you a key or card and point to the room number. You have no idea who in the lobby may be observing a member of your family or your possessions with a special interest. No one should know exactly where you are unless you decide to tell them.

Daytime fun: Many family-themed resorts offer a kids program, but parental vigilance is required as these programs are rarely subject to the same standards as child care centers. Ask the same kinds of questions you’d ask about a camp — Who are the staff? How are they screened? What kind of training do they receive from the hotel?

You can feel more secure if your hotel contracts with licensed child care providers for programs and parents should always know where their children are. Younger ones must be kept within eyesight; adolescents and older kids should be given a time limit to report back to parents. The limit can range from 15 to 30 minutes for younger adolescents; older kids may earn the right to be gone 60 to 90 minutes. These same time limits apply if parents chose to leave an adolescent in charge of younger siblings while the parents enjoy resort life. This can be a risky proposition — parents deserve privacy and vacation time as well, but it’s not easy to combine romance and family time. Safety first, couples’ time second.

Beach safety: Adolescent girls in bathing suits often can appear to be older than they are. When sunbathing without a chaperone, they may attract attention from men or older boys. A young girl may be flattered by this attention and equally unprepared to respond. This topic makes a great pre-vacation conversation and is a wonderful opportunity to share family values and beliefs about topics ranging from respect to puberty.

Sleep arrangements: This is a good time to remember some basic physiology. Sexual arousal is autonomic and occurs in response to conscious or unconscious stimuli. People do not choose when to get aroused any more than they choose when to blink. Most sexually mature (and maturing) human beings experience all or part of the sexual response cycle while sleeping. This simple fact of life should be considered when making sleeping arrangements for vacation. It is best for people who do not mean to share accidental arousal not to share beds. Put the adolescents on the floor with sleeping bags if there are not enough beds to go around.

Don’t forget the basics: Be cautious, use common sense, supervise little ones at all times and always know the whereabouts of adolescents and teens.

Dr. Janet Rosenzweig is the author of “The Sex-Wise Parent: The Parent’s Guide Protecting Your Child, Strengthening Your Family, and Talking to Kids about Sex, Abuse, and Bullying” and a 30-year veteran of child-welfare and youth-serving programs (www.SexWiseParent.com). This weekly column is a collaboration of Centre County Communities that Care serving Bald Eagle, Bellefonte, Penns Valley and Philipsburg-Osceola area school districts, and Care Partnership: Centre Region Communities that Care serving the State College Area School District.

 

This article appeared originally at  http://www.centredaily.com/2013/07/10/3682979/communities-that-care-discuss.html

Read more here: http://www.centredaily.com/2013/07/10/3682979/communities-that-care-discuss.html#storylink=cpy
Plan a sexually safe and healthy summer for your kids!

Plan a sexually safe and healthy summer for your kids!

The school year will end before you know it, and NOW is the time to make summer plans for kids.   Some parents look for a summer program that is educational; others look for a program that builds a special skill; many pick a program with hours that match parents work schedules.  Regardless of why a program is chosen, one thing should be certain: that the camp is run in a way to keep children safe.

Let’s go through a typical camp day to see some how a camp can ensure a child’s physical and emotional comfort and safety.

If the children will be picked up, will there be someone other than the driver to provide supervision? Excited kids can get unruly and distract a driver; an older child assigned to lead songs and keep order may be enough if no staff member is available. That child requires a regular check-in with a supervisor to keep thier judgement on track.   If parents drop off the children, are there procedures in place to ensure that the child passes from the parents supervision directly to a staff member? Is there a safe path to travel when the child leaves the car?

Camp administration should check the background and references for all people who have access to children. This includes maintenance and food services staff as well as the counselors, teachers or volunteers working directly with kids. It is common for summer camps to employ students; these young folks should participate in pre-service training to learn the rules, values and standards of the camp, and be assigned a supervisor who really supervises!  Teens have not finished maturing emotionally or intellectually and even great teens can show bad judgement…. don’t accept a camp that skimps on supervision!

Parents need to know how children are monitored as they move about the camp, for example if a child needs to use the bathroom. If the policy is to let children go alone, a time limit of no more than 5 minutes should be set. Tight supervision is a must for field trips; assigning buddies and performing constant head counts are basic tools of the trade.

Parents should always be able to observe a camp day. The camp should have a procedure requiring parents to sign in, and parents should be respectful and not interfere with camp activities.

The camp should maintain a list of people allowed to pick up children provided by parents at registration. Honor the process by avoiding last minute changes that the camp can’t verify.

Emotional safety requires attention. If swimming if offered, have the staff been prepared to handle children’s discomfort about changing clothes in front of others? If there is a focus on sports, are all children encouraged to participate? Is competition kept to a healthy level? Is the discipline consistent with parents’ values? And, how do they stop bullying? Remember, teen aged counselors may not be much better at empathy than the campers, so be sure this is emphasized in pre-camp staff training/orientation.

A parent could learn about these issues by interviewing the camp director, or talking to parents who sent their children in prior years. If the program that’s most convenient for you because of location, cost or hours does not meet all of these standards, the administration may be willing to take some of your suggestions! But trust your gut if you’re not comfprtable with any of the answers and look elsewhere.

Throughout the summer, parents should ask kids questions on these topics just to make sure that the policies they expected are indeed in place. Summer should be a time of relaxed fun for children and parents will be able to relax themselves when they know they have chosen a safe summer program for their children.

Get more straight-forward, common sense advice from  The Sex-Wise Parent by Dr. Janet Rosenzweig!

April is Sexual Violence Awareness Month, a good excuse to talk to your kids about sexuality!

Parents are the strongest influence on their children’s decisions about sex and sexuality, yet most parents underestimate their own power. A major national survey reported in 2010 that 46 percent of teens continue to say that parents most influence their decisions about sex, while just 20 percent say friends most influence their decisions. At the same time, parents overestimate the influence media and friends have on their children’s decisions about sex and underestimate their own.

The same study tells us that 88 percent of parents agree with the statement that “parents believe they should talk to their kids about sex but often don’t know what to say, how to say it, or when to start.” (Albert 2010) It’s easy to see why:They were raised in the era I’ve dubbed “The Neutered Nineties”. That’s when we traded rational discussion about sexuality for Megan’s Laws and sex offender registries, in the name of ‘prevention.’ It’s when cash-strapped school districts had to teach abstinence-only topics or lose federal funding. And when answering a question about masturbation at an AIDS conference got the U.S. surgeon general fired. Too many adults stopped talking to kids about sex. Qualified professionals went quiet and left a vacuum too easily filled by people who sexually offend.

Accurate and age-appropriate information about sex all but disappeared from most professional work in child sexual abuse, and it’s time to put it back.

Where to start? With two critical messages for our children:

They need to know accurate names for all their body parts; and

They need to understand that physical sexual arousal is an autonomic response — like getting goosebumps when tickled.

One now-grown female victim of child sexual abuse I interviewed for The Sex-Wise Parent told me that good touch-bad touch programs can actually be dangerous to a victim because sometimes the touch actually feels good! Further, men who were victims of sexual abuse report that the confusion resulting from a climax is one of the most difficult issues resolve.

People who sexually offend exploit children’s guilt and their lack of knowledge related to sexuality often try to convince them  that they must have actually enjoyed the abuse because of a physical response over which they have no control. Understanding sexual response is important for boys and girls — people who prey on teen-aged girls exploit the fact that very few girls understand that their physical response to a sexual thought, feeling or touch has absolutely nothing to do with love.

Language and knowledge that parents equip children with are a defense against abuse. Raising a child who knows the parts of his or her body, and knows that it’s safe to tell parents or a trusted adult if they have been touched, can prevent their victimization and probably other children’s, too. And, if abuse occurs, harm may be mitigated if the child understands their body’s response.

For parents who need support as they heed the advice to ‘talk early-talk often,’ I suggest practicing with friends and getting used to using sexual terms without discomfort. Take turns role-playing, asking each other the kinds of questions you fear getting from your children. Watch this video for ideas and encouragement. This may not be easy at first, but the reward can be lifelong — a sexually safe and healthy child!

Pubished by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center at   http://www.nsvrc.org/blogs/saam/sex-wise-parents-can-raise-sexually-safer-and-healthier-kids

What parents might learn from the Steubenville rape case

At this point in my life very few things cause an instinctive terror response. The Guy Fawkes masks donned the by the international hackers group Anonymous has the effect — maybe it’s the soulless eyes, or the overall look of a maniacal clown. A few weeks ago, I woke to that image as CNN ran a video of someone behind that mask explaining why they’d hacked private websites and E-mail accounts to expose the rape of an adolescent at a high-school party in Steubenville, Ohio. My reaction to the mask paled in comparison to my reaction to the cell-phone video of an unconscious girl apparently being violated by laughing boys WHILE OTHER KIDS STOOD BY! Oh – and the boys were star high school football players —-sorry, but I can’t feel  surpise at that!

This video of this disgusting act was shot last August, so this is not ‘news’ in that sense. Witnesses had posted photos, videos and twit-pics which were found by former Steubenville resident and blogger Alexandria Goddard before they were removed from the private accounts,  She  turned over to the police anticipating an investigation. Not much happened at first and blame appears to fall on the cozy relationship between members of the law enforcement community and the football coach. Then Anonymous blew the lid off this whole sordid affair, making it public and stating that they will not allow “a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability or small-town luck.”

Then came the community hand-wringing — we heard the usual crud. How could this happen in such a nice town? The alleged rapists were ‘good boys’ who made a bad choice, or the girl should not have been drinking. We heard all of that and more at the trial, and a news commentator cause a stir when she suggested that the boys lives were ruined as well by the verdict.

Really.

Wake up people! It’s the adults who failed here! They sent their kids out into the social world unprepared. Adolescents are fundamentally unable to make wise decisions. Their brains aren’t fully developed, they lack impulse control, they lack empathy but one thing they do not lack is sexual urges. Adolescents need adults to set limits, set standards and keep them in check! It is our job to coach kids into healthy, productive adulthood, not to reward violent, aggressive and selfish behavior. Parents need to be darn sure that their child understands the meaning of mutual consent (for example to having sex, or to being photographed nude and unconscious)  and how important that is for moral reasons, and not just legal ones.

There’s a lesson here for parents. Kids need limits. Kids need to be taught empathy until it’s naturally part of their consciousness. Kids need to know that their sexual arousal is theirs and theirs alone. Kids need to learn that sex is an expression of love and not a drinking game.  Too many parents assume that their kids are getting these lessons from school or their faith-based organization, and statistics show that this is just not true.  Parents must find the courage to be uncomfortable and fill their kids with their family values about sex and  accurate information how bodies, minds and hearts, and start  early.   I wrote The Sex-Wise Parent to help parents do that.

Caring people everywhere must speak out and change the norms of communities everywhere that tolerate adults sponsoring drinking parties and protecting sexual predators. Our kids  — boys and girls —deserve more. And, adults who tolerate violent behavior and support underage drinking should be ashamed of themselves and prosecuted as accessories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point in my life very few things cause an instinctive terror response. The Guy Fawkes masks donned the by the international hackers group Anonymous has the effect — maybe it’s the soulless eyes, or the overall look of a maniacal clown. This morning, I woke to that image as CNN ran a video of someone behind that mask explaining why they’d hacked private websites and E-mail accounts to expose the rape of an adolescent at a high-school party in Steubenville, Ohio. My reaction to the mask paled in comparison to my reaction to the cell-phone video of an unconscious girl apparently being violated by laughing boys WHILE OTHER KIDS STOOD BY! Oh – and the boys were star high school football players —- can you guess where this is going?

This video of this disgusting act was shot last August, so this is not ‘news’ in that sense. Witnesses had posted photos, videos and twit-pics which were found by former Steubenville resident and blogger Alexandria Goddard before they were removed from the private accounts.  She turned this material over to the police anticipating an investigation. Not much happened at first and blame appears to fall on the cozy relationship between members of the law enforcement community and the football coach. Then Anonymous blew the lid off this whole sordid affair, making it public and stating that they will not allow “a group of young men who turn to rape as a game or sport get the pass because of athletic ability or small-town luck.”

Now comes the community hand-wringing — get ready to hear the usual crud. How could this happen in such a nice town? The alleged rapists were ‘good boys’ who made a bad choice, or the girl should not have been drinking.

Really.

Wake up people! It’s the adults who failed here! They sent their kids out into the social world unprepared. Adolescents are fundamentally unable to make wise decisions. Their brains aren’t fully developed, they lack impulse control, they lack empathy but one thing they do not lack is sexual urges. Adolescents need adults to set limits, set standards and keep them in check! It is our job to coach kids into healthy, productive adulthood, not to reward violent, aggressive and selfish behavior. Parents need to be darn sure that their child understands the meaning of mutual consent (for example to having sex, or to being photographed nude and unconscious) and how important that is for moral reasons and not just legal ones.

There’s  more lessons here for parents. Kids need limits. Kids need to be taught empathy until it’s naturally part of their consciousness. Kids need to know that their sexual arousal is theirs and theirs alone. Kids need to learn that sex is an expression of love and not a drinking game. Too many parents assume that their kids are getting these lessons from school or their faith-based organization, and statistics show that this is just not true. Parents must find the courage to be uncomfortable and fill their kids with their family values about sex and accurate information bodies, minds and hearts, and start early. It’s not easy — that’s why  I wrote The Sex-Wise Parent , to help parents.

Caring people  must speak out and change the norms of communities everywhere that tolerate adults sponsoring drinking parties and protecting sexual predators. Our kids deserve more and we can  and must give it to them.

And, adults who tolerate sexual violence and support underage drinking should be ashamed of themselves and prosecuted as accessories. There’s a lesson in that too!

The benefit of Paterno’s hindsight: lessons for parents!

If you’ve been paying attention to the child sex-abuse scandal at Penn State, you know that a report commissioned by Joe Paterno’s family calls into question several elements of the Louis Freeh report of last year that implicated Paterno in failing to do anything about Sandusky.  Paterno’s widow, Sue, went on Katie Couric’s television show Monday and  when Couric asked her reaction to Joe’s statement that “he wished he’d done more”  Sue Paterno quickly reminded Katie  that the full quote was, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d done more.”

Now we all have the benefit of hindsight and no matter which report we favor, there’s one thing that’s certainly true — children were abused by a predator who knew how to seduce them  then hide in plain sight.

If you’re a parent, grandparent or anyone else responsible for young children, the benefit of hindsight lies in the action you can take now to prevent such a tragedy from  happening to your family. First and foremost, you need to get comfortable talking with children about sex, and giving them the tools to talk about it, in their own way, with you.

What? you say, “Talk to a 6-year-old about sex!?”  Actually, you can, and with a little practice it’s easy.  Any child who understands that they can get goose bumps from being tickled is ready to comprehend that sexual arousal is an autonomic response to stimulus. “Sometimes, a penis just does what it feels like whether we mean it to or not”. Once a boy understands this, we remove one of a pedophile’s most important weapons; a skilled pedophile in the process of seducing a young boy goes to great lengths to ensure that the child experiences physical arousal.  Any boy who does not know that his body is wired to respond to stimuli whether he wants it to or not is vulnerable to the lies of a predator.   Pedophiles I interviewed for The Sex-Wise Parent confirmed that they use a boy’s autonomic response as a tool to gain compliance.  “How can it be bad when it feels good?” they ask, and the uninformed child has no answer.  Girls are certainly not immune; while their physical response is less obvious, unexplained autonomic arousal leaves teenage girls who mistake lust for love vulnerable to predatory adult men.

Hindsight teaches us that almost as important as developing communication skills is developing the ability to suspend disbelief. There are some dangers we can’t anticipate; institutions we find almost impossible to distrust. A priest raping a child? Impossible! Rape in our shower? Beyond incomprehensible! Putting our children in the hands of a pedophile at a charity dedicated to improving the lives of kids? Can’t happen!

But it did, and it can, and it will again in places we can’t imagine. So remember that your best defense is your child’s ability to say, “Mommy, when my (teacher, coach, babysitter) touched my pee pee and it got big (warm, hard, tickly), he said that was our special game, is that Ok?”

No parent ever wants to be in the awful position that left Joe Paterno saying “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I’d done more”   Do it now!

Find help for parents at www.SexWiseParent.com

Forgive, but don’t forget

If I ever doubted the number of people who were sexually abused as a child, my current work promoting my book, The Sex-Wise Parent has brought me right back to sad reality.  I have yet to leave an event without  at least one survivor  sharing their story.  Many have a lesson that I feel compelled to share and last week’s lesson was about the double edged sword of forgiveness.

After one event a woman approached me to speak.   I had noticed her in the crowd; the entire time I while I had been speaking, she  the maintained steady eye contact, often  nodding in agreement with my statements.

She thanked me for my voice on the topic of sex abuse prevention, and  shared that she had been victimized as a young child.  Her parents moved her family far from their family of origin and sent her back every summer for an extended visit with her relatives.

Between  the ages of 6  to 12 a member of her summer household raped her at his convenience.  She quietly and calmly described her terror of using the bathroom or bathing,  because she knew that being undressed made her more vulnerable.  She had no one to tell in her summer home, and no words to tell her parents when she returned home.

The abuse ended decades ago when the rapist got old enough to leave the household.  My informant shared that she was much loved by her parents and found solace in her religion.  She shared that through grace and hard work with a therapist she forgave the abuser and went on with her life.  She told me that if they were both at the same family event, no one would know what he’d done to her.  She seemed calm and at peace with her ability to move on and maintain the peace within her extended family.

Until I asked how she knew that other children were safe.

She was taken off guard by my question, thought for a minute then replied that he only did it to her.  I tried to be gentle with my reminder that most predators have multiple victims and she just said “no, no.”

It is highly unlikely that I will  ever see  this woman again and I don’t know the decision she will make, but I hope she  was able to take some steps to make sure a predator is not terrorizing children.  If this were your friend, would you ask them to trade their family’s peace for the potential of saving a child?

Give the gift of knowledge to support your childs sexual health and safety

A few weeks ago I heard Sherri Sheppard, one of the hosts on The View, wondering out loud what to tell her very young son who had apparently just discovered that rubbing lotion on his genitals felt good.

What an opportunity this presented! Parents can use age-appropriate words to tell a child that their genitals are special places that bring special feelings. These special feelings are for the child to have all by him/herself, and enjoy in private. The conversation can end with “do you have any questions about that?” and the parent can smile, knowing that they’d just cemented one brick into the foundation of sexual health and safety.

There is no more important ‘fact of life’ for a child or teen to understand that this one: Just because their body responds in a reflexive way to stimulation of some kind — even when that response feels good in a lot of ways — does not mean that they ‘wanted’ the act to occur. Nor does it mean they have any emotional tie to another person who may have shared or initiated the act; predators bank on your child not knowing that. Too many adults recall guilt and shame from their own innocent touch, a totally unnecessary roadblock on the road the sexual health and safety.

Here’s a sample of the protection you and your child receive from this simple shared understanding:

• Protection from the pedophile who believes that once he gets a child to orgasm, the child will be hooked into the relationship.
• Protection from the predatory high school teacher counting on the fact that adolescents can’t distinguish lust from love.
• Protection from the fear and self-doubt that comes from thinking your body is abnormal.

After decades working with child sexual abuse there is no question in my mind that sexual predators prey on a child’s innocence and ignorance. And, from working with parents, I know that many parents think these words are synonymous, that is, when we replace ignorance with knowledge we somehow threaten our child’s innocence. It’s time to get over that misconception.

When you provide accurate information in a loving and age-appropriate way, you create a foundation for your child’s sexual health and safety. Among the most urgent things that a parent must teach their child is the medical fact that sexual arousal is an autonomic, reflexive physical response to stimulation.

Ignorance about sexual health and development can lead to many painful experiences; the girl who thinks she is dying of cancer when her genitals start to bleed, or the boy who believes his penis is malfunctioning because he has nocturnal emissions. We can and must alleviate this pain. Knowledge about sexual health and development can bring safety, confidence and ultimately joy.

I urge parents to become sex-wise, find the courage to be uncomfortable, and step up not only to protect your child from danger but to make it possible for him or her to ultimately grow into healthy, fulfilling relationships. Give your child the gift of knowledge. Find help at www.SexWiseParent.com or in The Sex-Wise Parent. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1616085096

Ever hear of an ephebophile? They are just like pedophiles, except they’re after teens!

The story of Brittni Colleps, a Texas school teacher charged with having sex with four students at her home, is a sickening example of a loss of discipline in the people and institutions to whom we entrust our children.

As upsetting as it is, this case can give parents the opportunity and motivation to make sure that their schools, and their children, are safe from type of sexual predator. And it is predation – even though the (alleged) victims were all over 18, they were students in Colleps’ school and we depend on that relationship to be friendly and professional, but not sexual.

Have a look at my checklist to determine if the ‘sexual climate’ in your child’s school might also allow this kind of behavior.

Sexual climate in this context is a variation of “school climate”, a concept used by scholars of educational administration to describe the “feel” of being is a specific school. While “school culture” refers to the rules, policies and procedures of a school district and is uniform throughout a school district, the climate can vary greatly from school to school, depending on the faculty, staff, students, or even factors like the design of a building. The sexual climate in a school where a teacher might be sexually involved with a number of students is clearly dangerous.

The Sandusky case and clergy scandals have placed a bright spotlight on pedophiles, adults who are sexually attracted to young children and eventually sexualize their trust and affection, generally leading to rape. The allegations against Brittny Colleps remind us that there is more than one type of sexual predator lusting after our kids.

Professionals use the term hebephile for someone with a preference for children just entering puberty and the term ephebophile to describe someone with an attraction to older adolescents. You don’t need to remember the names; you do need to understand that the need to know every adult who spends time with our kids does not end with elementary school.

An example of the destruction an ephebophile can leave in his path might be found in the story of Monica Lewinsky. Lewinsky was sexually involved with her high school drama teacher, a man described in a HBO special by other students in her school as a known predator. If kids know which teachers are predators, adults stand a chance of knowing as well. There are easy steps that any parent can take, including recognizing the prevalence of these relationships, maintaining open communication with a teen, and knowing every adult who spends alone-time with them. Then, consider talking with other parents to answer these questions.

Allegations like those against Brittni Colleps and the reports of convictions of teachers from schools all over the country remind us that sexual predators can be of any age or gender. If we read the report published by the US Department of Education — and I urge you to follow this link — Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature — you’ll see how common this behavior really is.

But if you’ll read my checklist you’ll see that there are steps a Sex-Wise Parent can take to ensure that the sexual climate of the schools serving their kids will promote sexual health and safety.