Sleepover invitations are pretty common in a child’s social life. Should you or shouldn’t you allow your child to attend them? Can sexual abuse happen at sleepovers? It takes preparation and vigilance to ensure your loved one enters a safe environment where they feel comfortable, secure, and supported.
You may find it hard to think that sexual abuse may impact your child. But the truth is that sexual abuse is a real issue you should not and can not ignore. When one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18, the time to stay educated is now.
Keep reading to understand the key considerations and what methods you can facilitate to safeguard your loved one. Remember, education is critical to prevention.
4 Things to Consider Before Allowing Sleepovers
Think through these four factors to help you decide whether or not to allow your child to attend a friend’s sleepover. Trust your intuition when it comes to their safety.
- Child’s independence level: Consider your child’s age and maturity level. Have they spent time away from you before? How comfortable would they feel spending a night at a friend’s house? How comfortable are they setting boundaries?
- Sleepover host: Who is hosting and supervising the sleepover? Will it just be the parents, or will other adults be present? How well do you know these adults?
- Environment: What will the sleeping arrangements be? Is there an open-door policy? Are there rooms or areas available where your child can comfortably change in and out of their clothes?
- Comfort level with the host: You should feel comfortable reaching out to the host family to assess the environment, supervision, and other concerns. If you can’t comfortably voice your concerns or struggle to form a relationship with them, this may be a sign to skip the sleepover.
How to Prepare Yourself and Your Child Before a Sleepover
Once you’ve decided it’s okay for your child to attend a sleepover, run through the topics below. This preparation ensures your loved one is equipped with the proper strategies and knowledge to prevent child sexual abuse.
Even if they’re not attending a sleepover, it helps to review these points to prepare them for future get-togethers.
- Understand physical and non-physical forms of contact: Sexual abuse doesn’t simply involve unwanted physical contact; it also entails non-physical forms. These might include unhealthy sexual exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography. Understanding the full spectrum of child sexual abuse empowers you and your loved one. You don’t have to discuss mature topics with your child. Instead, review the importance of their body and that sometimes, non-physical situations warrant a boundary violation.
- Teach how to establish healthy boundaries: Help your child understand the importance of boundaries. Everyone, including your kid, is entitled to them. Education may involve helping your child identify correct behaviors and empowering them to speak up when someone or something makes them uncomfortable.
- Talk through different scenarios: Prepare your child by discussing different situations they may encounter and the appropriate responses. For example, what would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and got scared? What if your friend’s older brother asked you to hang out in his room?
- Decide on a method of communication to stay in touch: For example, you may want your child to take a cell phone with them in case they need to reach out to you in a need or crisis. Or, they can use the phone to text you during their time away to check in.
- Set clear expectations with the host: Some kids are exposed to sexually explicit movies or images at sleepovers. Establish your entertainment expectations with the host parents beforehand.
Take the Lead Against Child Sexual Abuse
We encourage you to continuously lean on trusted resources and guides to stay educated on child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is far more common than people think. Understanding prevention methods and how to support survivors of child abuse are critical to your loved one’s long-term wellness.