If you are preparing to take your family to a theme park and are concerned about keeping your kids’ safe from predators, you are right to be cautious and worried. Theme parks do not just attract families looking for an adventure. Anywhere you can find children, child predators can be found, too; and theme parks are no exception.
Not only do theme parks attract potentially dangerous visitors, they also attract predators and molesters who seek employment at these parks as a way to have regular and easy access to our kids. According to the Huffington Post, many Disney Employees have been arrested over the years and accused of sex crimes involving children.
As scary as that may be, your family can still enjoy a day at the theme park. You just need to err on the side of caution and take a few extra steps to keep your kids safe.
Steps To Keep Your Child Safe at Theme Parks
The best thing you can do is communicating the dangers of sexual predators with your kids. It is a reality of our world and it should not be hidden from them. And the older and more independent they become, the more important it is to have candid conversations with them about the dangers of the sexual predators.
Before heading to the theme park, talk to your kids about personal space, inappropriate contact from a theme park worker or visitor and staying close by your side. This conversation will look a bit different depending on the ages of your children but the bottom line is to have open communication with them. Make sure they are aware of the dangers of predators and teach them to be smart about whom they are in contact with; even when they are out in public with you.
Once you and your family get to the theme park, identify the emergency or first aid centers right away so that your kids know where to go if they get lost or separated from you. We all hope that this never happens but it is not that difficult to lose a child in an overcrowded and chaotic theme park where they are constantly sidetracked by something new. Make sure your kids know where to go if they turn around and realize that you are not standing next to them anymore.
One of the most dangerous places in a theme park, or any crowded public place for that matter, is the restroom. As parents, we tend to get lackadaisical about allowing our children to go to the restroom alone as they get older. But, sadly enough, predators love to hang out in restrooms. Some are there to take pictures to use later while others are bolder and may actually attempt some type of physical interaction with your child. It happens. Do not ever let your child go to the restroom alone in a crowded theme park, especially the younger ones. You do not need to be in the stall with them but you should be in the restroom itself.
Another important point to remember is that many theme park predators do not actually make their bold move at the park itself. Some predators are there to prey on teens and teenagers who may be sitting alone for a moment. These offenders may initiate a conversation with your older child, ask for their name, and then find them on social media later. That is why it is critical that you warn your children of these predators before your outing and have access to monitor their social media accounts later.