By: Sue Anganes
Allowing your child to use a public restroom alone has always come with risks, and we must be discerning as moms as to how to keep our children safe from predators.
One of the simplest solutions to keeping your child safe is to use a family bathroom. These restrooms have become more prevalent in recent years and are mainly used for those who have a disabled child or adult who needs help toileting but is not comfortable to go into a designated men’s or ladies’ restroom with a parent or a person of the opposite sex. If a young teenage boy with a disability needs help, there is not a good solution as to what rest room to use if he is with his mom. The mom does not want to enter a men’s room with him and he does not want to enter the ladies’ room with her. A family bathroom solves the issue; it’s one room for use by one family. If you have a young child who insists on using the public restroom by his or her self, the smartest choice would be to have the child use a family restroom.
When there is no family restroom available, it is so important to make sure your kids know some basic safety rules to follow when using a public restroom.
-Never talk to strangers in the restroom.
-Boys should use a stall for privacy instead of a urinal.
-Moms should stand outside the men’s room door.
-Don’t be afraid to open the door a crack if things are taking too long and call in to the child asking if everything is okay. Expect an immediate answer.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children feels that children of any age should not be permitted to use public restrooms alone. Unless there is a family rest room available, this is often times impossible. Teach your children to be cautious but not fearful—we all have to live in this world (and poop and pee) and not all strangers are bad. Teach them to speak out if they feel afraid, and never be hesitant to yell, “NO!” if anyone is making them uncomfortable.
There is no one group of individuals that we need to avoid in order to protect our children from being sexually assaulted. Predators come from all walks of life. Often, it is the person we would least expect who is the predator. Being constantly aware of our children’s safety in this regard is so very important.