Summer is upon us, and for many of us, this means that whatever structure we’ve built for ourselves is now experiencing upheaval. 

In whatever form it takes for you and your family, summertime provides both challenges and opportunities. Unfortunately, the lack of structure in the summer often creates situations where abuse and other problematic interactions against or between children occur. 

When boundaries are less defined, and schedules are more of a suggestion than a rule, it is important to use the time as an opportunity to help your children learn and understand their internal and external boundaries, and how that relates to personal safety.

We’ve all dealt with the dreaded August and know how overwhelming it can be. Let’s not allow that to stand in the way of this phenomenal opportunity and necessity to empower our kids to make safe choices! 

While by no means exhaustive, here is a short list of messages to share with your children, and rules to keep in mind. 

Messages for your children: 

  • It is a mitzvah to keep your body healthy and safe.
  • Respecting boundaries, both your own and others, is an important value!
  • Most people are wonderful and kind and want the best for other adults and kids. But unfortunately, there are some older kids and adults who act in ways that are not safe or appropriate for children. It’s hard to know who those “tricky people” are, because they usually look very normal and nice. If your child feels like something is “off” about someone in their lives, they should be empowered to talk to you about it. 
  • Adults and big kids should want to spend most of their time with people their own age. 
  • Adults should ask for help from other adults, not from children. If an adult wants your child’s help it must always be coordinated with permission from your parents. 
  • Secrets should never be kept from parents. If someone asks your child to keep a secret from you, it’s important that they tell you right away. 

Always remember, there is no secret or problem that is too big for a parent to handle. Your children should know they can come to you with any problem, big or small, and even if you don’t know the solution, you will be able to help them find it.

Remember, an ongoing conversation with your children about personal safety is far more effective than a one-time conversation about safety rules, which is likely to go in one ear, and right out the other. 

Guidelines for Parents: 

  • Always know who is supervising your children at home. Whether baby-siiter, neighbor or relative:- you are still the parent, even when you’re at work while they are home. 
  • Know where your kids are at all times. If they are moving around from one friend to another, they should let you know. 
  • Know who your children are spending time with. Be wary of an adult or older child who is taking special interest and trying to spend significant time with them.
  • Unfiltered internet should be considered like a strange adult in your home. If you wouldn’t allow your children to stay home alone with a stranger, they should also not be left unsupervised with unmonitored internet access. 

May we have a safe, peaceful summer of yeshuot!