While some families have a ‘no sleepovers’ rule, with the right precautions, we believe the risk for abuse can be significantly reduced.
- Allowing your child to have sleepovers for fun only when you feel confident that they understand what private parts are and that they should not be shared.
- Only having sleepovers with family/friends that you know well and are as supportive of body safety rules as you are. If you’re not comfortable to talk about abuse prevention with them, then you shouldn’t be comfortable letting your children under their care without you, right?
- You know who will be in the home, including any older siblings (or their friends) extended family or romantic partners.
- You have a ‘safe’ word that you’ve taught your child so that if they need to call you and ask for help they can do so without calling unwanted attention. For example, “I need my medicine” may be a good way for your child to let you know they need you.
A good alternative to giving a cell phone to a child (especially if you’re minimizing access to the internet) are the watch phones that are geared towards kids, which only allow a child to call/text their parents.
These rules should apply to play dates as well. Let's never assume that by removing the aspect of ‘sleeping over’ that there is no risk. It is our responsibility to know who is around our children and vocal about our knowledge and support of body safety.
During a quiet moment after time spent away from you (and not in front of others), it's always a good idea to ask your child if they enjoyed themselves, whether or not everyone acted appropriately, and watch for any changes in behavior.