Before you go to bed at night you make sure the doors are locked, right?
You have a fire extinguisher, smoke alarms, and a fire escape plan made because DCFS requires it. You also have a tornado safety plan. Your children are required to sit in the proper car seat in the car and the law requires you wear a seat belt.
What do all of these things have in common?
Safety. You do all of these things to keep you and your family safe. It’s safe to say that you’d do just about anything to keep your family safe. There may be a few things you’re not doing though that could make a big difference in how secure your family is in your home.
Do you have boundaries? Not rules — physical boundaries. Do you remember way back in PRIDE training during session 8 when you learned about creating a healing home? If you do, have you implemented all of those guidelines or is that one of those things that you let slip?
Creating physical boundaries in your home not only protects a child that has been sexually abused, but it protects your children from abuse and protects you from allegations of abuse.
Here’s some boundaries that should be in place in every home to ensure everyone feels safe and is safe:
Beds are for one person
Children should have the comfort of knowing that they are the only ones allowed in their bed. No other child is allowed in their bed and no adults should ever be in their bed. That provides comfort to children who have been abused. It also ensures that the child or a parent isn’t accused of anything. Also, children should NEVER be in the parents bed. This includes parents sitting on the bed to tell a bedtime story (remember the “great” video where Annie’s mom sat in a chair beside the bed?).
Open door/closed door policy
If children are playing in a room, the door should be open at all times. You should be able to peek in or listen to what is going on at all times. The children should realize that you are prone to checking up on them frequently when they’re playing. Children of opposite sexes should not play in a secluded area by themselves — especially children who have been sexually abused. It can make the abused child feel unsafe or create an environment where they can become the offender. It’s also a good practice to put up an invisible boundary around your bedroom — it should be off limits to all children.
The bathroom should be for one person only. Children shouldn’t be in there when the adults are in there and adults should only be in there if the child needs help. Foster moms should handle the needs of girls, while foster dads handle the needs of boys. This is not always possible, but it is best to enforce this the best you can.
Parents should be very careful about children of the opposite sex sitting in their lap. This is one of those that is hard (and somewhat awkward) to enforce, but it is important. Also, tickling games should be off-limits. Both of these things can be triggers because many abusers start with having a child sit in their lap or playing tickling games. It is also a good policy for everyone to have their own throw blanket in the living room if everyone likes to cuddle up and watch movies together.
For some of you, some of the boundaries listed above seem crazy. After all, these weren’t necessary with your children and the rules weren’t in your home when you were little. The difference is the children who are in your home. Many of these children have been exposed to sexual content at a young age, whether it be pornography, R-rated movies, or abuse. Also, these children are not legally yours and any allegation or misunderstanding can lead to an investigation of your home. Remember in session 8 when the girl told her teacher about the game she played with her mom’s boyfriend and the foster mom got reported? It turned out to be a misunderstanding — it was the bio mom’s boyfriend, not the foster mom’s boyfriend.
There was a time when leaving your front door unlocked was OK, but in this day and age there are too many bad people out there. There was a time when you didn’t need some of the above boundaries, but sadly there are too many bad people out there.