Our view: Parent-child communication key to keeping children safe

October 3, 2013 10:30:29 AM



Monday, a Caledonia man was arrested and charged for trying to solicit sex from a 13-year-old girl he met online, authorities say. 


Sadly, these incidents happen frequently enough that while we are sickened by them, we are hardly shocked. 


This latest incident reminds us that along with new technology comes new dangers and challenges. This case, fortunately, will not end in tragedy. It is also worth noting that a couple of very good things happened in the way the event unfolded, lessons parents should learn and remember. 


First, the child told her mother about the man she met online. That's a crucial element in keeping our children safe: An open line of communication between parent and child.  


Second, the mother took action, posing as her daughter and drawing out the alleged perpetrator, then calling the sheriff's department to take it from there. Again, this serves to remind us that parents should not play a passive role when it comes to the unique dangers presented by through the ever-expanding labyrinth of social media. 


Often, in such cases, there is a breakdown in communication between parent and child or a parent's reluctance to be an unapologetic intruder on a child's "right" to privacy. The results are often tragic. 


While it is only natural that teens are bound to exert their independence and claim their right to privacy, it is important to understand that these "rights" are not sacrosanct. A parent's responsibility to ensure the safety of the child trumps these demands. 


This is not to advocate "helicopter parenting," of course. As children mature, it is only natural that they be given the freedom to make their own choices. But some choices require a level of maturity and judgment that a teen cannot be expected to have mastered. And that is where an involved parent is essential. 


It would serve parents well to note these cases, when they occur, and use them to educate their children on the dangers that are out there. 


We want our children to grow up to be independent thinkers capable of managing their own lives.