Hello summer! With summer comes the freedom our children enjoy – no school, sleeping in, camps, family vacations, and relaxation. As much as we would like to think we, as parents, can enjoy this same freedom, the reality of this experience and exposure does not allow us to relax our vigilance in protecting our children. In fact, this new found freedom should actually challenge us to be more attentive to our children and their surroundings.
Those who may have nefarious intentions view this time as “Open Summer” – a time when parents reduce their protective factors in an effort to provide children with all that the summer has to offer. This is actually the time parents need to shift the open dialogue with our children and those who will be caring for them during the summer months. If your child will be attending a camp or other experience, parents should be asking the tough questions – What are your child protection policies? What are your volunteer screening policies? Are these policies available online? This is not about unfairly targeting well-intentioned programs, this is about making sure our children are protected. If someone is resistant, that should be a huge red flag. A quality child-serving organization should be proud of their youth protection policies. I want all of us to enjoy the summer. Many of us may do this be visiting various beach sands – let’s just not do it by burying our heads in this same sand.
Chris Newlin, MS LPC
National Children’s Advocacy Center