As a protective parent, I have had to have several discussions with my kids about such topics.
We've had very blunt conversations with my kids about people who may try to touch them inappropriately--maybe a stranger, a teacher, someone at church or even a family member--and then what to do if this happens (starting with first telling myself or my husband).
We've talked about people who try to take kids by luring them away with candy or "needing help" to find a lost pet.
The subject of bullying has also been brought up.
And sex, rape and the aforementioned molestation.
It seems that more frequently than ever before, parents are being faced with the need for discussion about really tough topics.
Most recently, as with most parents, we had to talk about the possibility of a school shooting. We told them what had happened at a school earlier that day. We told them that if they heard shooting, or banging or screaming to hide. We told them to pray. We taught them that while terrible things happen, we need to stay strong, keep praying, trust in the Lord and listen to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost about what to do.
They seemed to handle it really well--probably better than I was handling it myself.
Kids are really resilient.
The most important thing we can do as parents for our children is to create a safe haven at home. Love them, care for them, create a place of comfort and safety. We cannot prevent many of these tragedies from happening, but we can raise children that are strong and who know who they are (a Child of God) and that they are loved so that when these storms of life arrive, they will be better prepared to handle them, mentally and spiritually.
Be prepared. Have discussions with your children about these things and prepare them. A scripture comes to mind: "...if ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (Doctrine and Covenants 38:30).
You can't always predict and/or prevent what happens, but you can do your best to prepare. Just like schools have various practice drills--fire, earthquake, and lock-down--we too can do some of these preparations so if/when it arises, we know what to do.
Occasionally, a child may have increased anxiety upon discussing such matters, or may actually have an event that occurs that makes them more fearful. Reassure them and comfort them the best you can. If this does not help after a reasonable amount of time, you may need to seek outside help--either from their school teacher or counselor or another professional.
Our family is strongly built on our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Regardless of what happens on earth--tragedy, death, etc.--we know that we can be together again and we can be healed through His Atonement. Our trust in the Lord is the foundation of our peace and comfort.
Watch this video from Jeffrey R. Holland speaking about protecting our children: Spiritual Protection for our Children.
Decide what your own beliefs are--in the Universe, Heaven, people who are good, etc.--and build this as a strong foundation for your children, always centered on love and trust.
It won't always be easy, but it will always work out.
Amid all of the evil in the world, there is always good. Seek the good, the pure, the lovely and surround yourself and your family in the beauty in all things. Create a strong family. Do activities together. Make memories. Strengthen your love for each other. Be the good you want in the world.
© Wendy 2013