Complete coverage of the sexual abuse scandal at a South Los Angeles elementary school

How Parents Can Help Protect Children From Predators

A child safety expert has some safety advice for parents.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A child safety advocate advises parents on how they can help protect their children from predators. (Published Wednesday, Feb 15, 2012)

    It began with lewd conduct charges and the arrest of two former teachers at Miramonte Elementary School. Two weeks later, similar allegations were leveled against two teachers at two other schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Shocked parents have been left wondering how these allegations – if true – could have happened, and what they can do to help keep their children safe.

    Children’s advocate and author Pattie Fitzgerald thinks the media exposure of the events will not cause more attacks on children, however, it might help bring more incidents to the attention of parents.

    "I think it may result in more disclosures because parents are now starting to talk to their children and look at the other adults that interact with their kids in a different way," Fitzgerald said.

    Fitzgerald says the allegations should remind parents to remain in constant contact with their children and remind them about what she calls thumbs up and thumbs down acts.

    "The first thing I tell children is they are the boss of their bodies. That means if something feels wrong you can say no or stop, even to an adult or a bigger kid," Fitzgerald said.

    With additional allegations come fears that not all will be valid. Fitzgerald doesn’t buy it.

    "There’s always the possibility that a child will say well that happened to me too because they see the attention being drawn to another child but in reality kids don't make this stuff up," Fitzgerald said.

    Fitzgerald reminds parents to be proactive and not to lessen their guard even with people they know well. Also she stresses getting familiar the adults that interact with children at school.

    "Every once in a while you pop into that class and say, 'So glad my daughter is here,' love hearing about what you guys do every day," Fitzgerald. "Because it puts that person on notice that this is not a child or parent that you can mess with."

    Fitzgerald’s new book, "No Trespassing-This is My Body, is aimed at children as young as 3 years old. Its theme is teaching kids not to keep secrets.

    The advice she urges parents to give kids: "It's okay to tell, in fact you should tell. There are no secrets from mom and dad," Fitzgerald said.

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