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Talking sex to stop sex offenders

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HOUSTON (FOX 26) -

In our three-part series on child sexual predators, FOX 26 News has shown you where they live and where they usually hide.

But pedophiles likely won't find a foothold with your children, the experts tell us, if you have an open and honest relationship with your kids.

That means talking with them. Yes, even about sex. Especially about sex.

DIANE VINES, Children's Assessment Center:

As soon as they express some kind of curiosity about where babies come from - sex, things like that - go ahead and have "the talk."

If you want them to have your values, you have to use your mouth. And you have to tell them. They are not going to think of it the way you do, because they're little.

Then they'll also know what it is. So if Uncle Junior is saying, "This is a game," they know it's not a game.

CONSTABLE VICTOR TREVINO, Harris Co. Precinct 6:

The majority of grown-ups are good people that care about the kids. These other individuals are predators. That's a big difference. How does a child know the difference? They have to understand that.

You know, it's okay to be cordial with a grown-up. But you don't take rides with them, you don't accept money, you don't accept candy.

As simple as it may sound to you and I as grown-ups, to a young child, it's not that simple.

ANDY KAHAN, Crime Victims' Advocate:

If you start seeing a child become a little bit withdrawn, or elusive or evasive in answering the questions, those are red flags that go immediately up.

DIANE VINES:

Kids, for example, that used to be potty trained and they'd sleep dry through the night - now they're wetting the bed. Kids whose grades plummet. Kids who, especially if you have a pre-teen, they start cutting? There's a big correlation between cutting and being a sexual abuse victim.

Kids who don't want to bathe any more, sleep in all their clothes, avoid certain people. There's a whole lot of different symptoms.

ANDY KAHAN:

Keep cognizant of any adults, particularly, that spend an exorbitant amount of time with your child - and particularly try to get your child alone.

DIANE VINES:

I think about Michael Jackson, who - at the time - didn't even have 9-to-11 year old boys. But he kept having them over to his house. Which, most people would want to get rid of their own 9-to-11 year old boys and send them to somebody else's house to play.

SAM MUKERJI, Attorney:

I don't think there's anything a parent can do - obviously, it goes without saying - to prevent any type of harm from ever happening. But you can take steps.

DIANE VINES:

First of all, trust your gut. If it feels funny, it probably is.

ANDY KAHAN:

Parents, be nosy. That's the real basic thing, find out. If a child has a cell phone, you have every right to check who's text-messaging them, who's calling them and who's looking at them.

CONSTABLE VICTOR TREVINO:

Parents need to understand that, that you're not being offensive. You're doing what parents should do to protect your child.

SAM MUKERJI:

Most daycares, most camps, most private schools, they're doing good. But those few and far between organizations that are not? Look into them.

I mean, if one place is a mile away and you're sending (your children) there because it's so close and they've been cited several times? Don't send them there. Send them to the place that's a mile and a half away, that's got good reviews.

ANDY KAHAN:

You need to start asking questions, get involved in your child's life. That's the best possible precaution you can take.

DIANE VINES:

You create an environment in your house, as early as you can, that your kids know they can talk to you about anything. When you create that kind of environment, they're less vulnerable to feeling needy for adults' attention. Because they have you.

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