If town criers still existed and I was one, I’d be ringing the bell and shouting warnings to parents to predator-proof their children in light of Graham James being granted a pardon by the National Parole Board.
Our show, On The Line, has featured many experts from police sex crime units over the years. Recently, we opened our phone lines for public feedback about the James case. As we listened to callers express their disgust with the parole board, what struck me the most was the level of fear some parents expressed for their child’s safety. One woman actually questioned how she could know if her son was being molested in a public washroom. Another woman was scared to enrol her son in sports — period. I realized at this point just how deep this issue was affecting some parents, so we shifted the discussion to one about common sense ways to protect our children.
I drew from my former experts on the topic and I’ll reiterate some key points that all parents should know when it comes to predator-proofing children.
Starting with their M.O., predators typically seek out positions that put them near children. They will even befriend someone with children to be near the kids. Predators know children well: Their fears and the vulnerable points of entry into to a child’s heart. They are also proficient liars and will tell your child anything to convince them to comply to their sinister wishes. Luring children on the Internet is another huge problem, so make sure computers are placed in high-traffic areas in the home.
With those horrors in mind, we need to intermittently teach our children about good and bad touches, communicate regularly with them about their day, watch for unusual signs — like reluctance to talk to you and/or withdrawal. It is also vital to keep in regular contact with adults who are spending lots of time with our children and have opportunity to be with them alone.
In the James case, as soon as he came out of jail, he went to Spain to coach more hockey. According to former victim Sheldon Kennedy, James has never apologized nor shown remorse. No one knows where James is now, nor the location of every other predator — past or present.
So while we continue to hold authorities accountable for public safety, taking proactive measures with our children is our best option.
Christine Williams is the producer and host of the live current affairs daily talk show On the Line at CTS TV in Burlington, Ont.