UNH Crimes Against Children Research Center
THE GIFT OF SAFETY FROM UNH'S CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN RESEARCH CENTER
By Erika Mantz
UNH News Bureau
December 19, 2002
Editor's note: David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, has compiled this list of suggestions on how to keep children safe. Feel free to run it in its entirety.
What more important gift can a parent give a child than a safe and secure childhood?
The holidays are a good time to think about how to make your children more safe and secure. This can be especially true if they are changing routines, spending time with new people, traveling or facing stresses that sometimes accompany the holidays. These are some things parents can do to help protect their children in the many different realms in which they live, study and play.
Babysitters and daycare are not unusually high-risk situations for children, but a couple thousand such abuse cases are reported each year. Parents should be concerned about physical and sexual abuse on the part of both teen and adult sitters.1
About one in 10 school-age children say they were the victim of bullying in the last year. The bullying tends to increase during elementary and middle school years, and decline during high school.2
One in five youth who use the Internet regularly receive an online sexual solicitation over the course of a year, and one in four receive unwanted pornography.3
Family members are responsible for more violent crimes against children than strangers.4
Close to 800,000 children are reported missing each year. The most common reason is running away. 5
Events in the news, from terrorist attacks, to kidnappings, to snipers, to school violence, have the potential to frighten children.
"Our world certainly is too dangerous a place for young people," says David Finkelhor, director of UNH's Crimes Against Children Research Center. "But in the last few years we have made progress in reducing some of the risks like homicide, sexual abuse, teen pregnancy and running away, because of the gift of awareness about these problems. This holiday and this New Years, let us spread this gift even more widely than ever."
These are only a few among many things that parents can do to keep their children safe. More information on children's safety is available from some of the following sources:
1. Finkelhor, D. and R.K. Ormrod, Crimes against children by babysitters. 2001, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Washington, DC. p. 1-7.
2. Ross, D.M., Childhood bullying and teasing: What school personnel, other professionals, and Parents can do. 1996, Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.
3. Finkelhor, D., K. Mitchell, and J. Wolak, Online victimization: A report on the nation's youth. 2000, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: Alexandria, VA.
4. Finkelhor, D. and R. Ormrod, Characteristics of crimes against juveniles. 2000, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Washington, DC. p. 1-11.
5. Sedlak, A.J., Finkelhor, D., Hammer, H., and Schultz, D. National estimates of missing children: An overview. 2002, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention: Washington, DC. p. 1-11.