Parental Tips

7 Tips for a Safer Sleepover

Do you allow your child to host or attend sleepovers? Sleepovers have become a hot topic of debate among parents in recent years as child sexual abuse (CSA) has received more awareness and attention. 

One thing we know for certain is that more than 90% of CSA cases are perpetrated by someone known and trusted by the family. 

All kids love a night away with their friends, but before you send them off read these seven tips to help ensure a safe sleepover.

Just like the internet, sleepovers aren’t inherently bad, but they do pose inherent risks – and education can be key in prevention. When kids and parents know the dangers and warning signs, they can both be better equipped to stay safe. 

Consider these seven tips for a safe sleepover if you DO choose to allow them. 

 

Make sure you know and trust the adults, and that they will be home to supervise.
Having a quick chat with the parents of the house to establish expectations and get on the same page is a simple way to set boundaries and gauge your comfort level leaving your child in their care. Be open and honest in your communication, and ask the hard questions about things like sleeping arrangements, lights out time, and who will be in the home.

Know who will be there at the same time as your child.
Will older children be present? Their friends? An uncle? Always know who will be there in the home – whether they live there or not. Studies show that nearly 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older children, so don’t overlook peers.

Have a pre-sleepover conversation with your child.
While body boundaries should be a regular topic of conversation, review the basics before your child leaves home. Make sure they know their “no touch areas”, the warning signs of grooming, and feel confident in how to navigate those situations should they occur.

All kids love a night away with their friends, but before you send them off read these seven tips to help ensure a safe sleepover.

Check in on your child and allow them to call you.
If your child has their own cell phone, make sure they have access to it, fully charged. If your child doesn’t have a phone, consider writing your phone number on their hand, or on a slip of paper in their pocket. Be sure to also leave your contact information with the adults of the house. Most importantly, make sure your child knows they can call you at any time, for any reason

Designate a code word.
A code word gives your child an easy out, and can help get them out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations without raising suspicion. If your child feels unsafe but is afraid to say so on the phone, they can just say the code word so you know to pick them up immediately.

All kids love a night away with their friends, but before you send them off read these seven tips to help ensure a safe sleepover.

Never force a child to stay anywhere they are uncomfortable.
Safety plans only work when they’re followed. If your child voices discomfort or hesitation about staying somewhere – even after you’ve dropped them off – don’t force them to stay until morning.

Listen to your child, and trust their feelings.
Trust your gut – and listen to your child when they’re following theirs. Your child may be picking up on something they can’t articulate, or have a gut feeling with no evidence. Take the time to hear them out and trust their instincts when they tell you they aren’t comfortable. 

Regardless of your stance on sleepovers, it pays to learn about how to keep your family safe from child sexual predators online and in real life. 

If you’re unsure where to start, you’re not alone. That’s why we partnered with the Safe Surfin’ Foundation to release a free E-Book, C.R.A.M.: A Parent’s Study Guide to Managing Kids & Technology.

With C.R.A.M., you’ll learn practical tips to keep your kids safe online, how to talk to kids about predators by age group, how to recognize the signs of grooming, what to do if a predator contacts your child, and you’ll get device settings and safety tips for popular online games. Download your free copy today!