Dear Amy: I have a 6-year-old granddaughter whose parents are not together.
In a couple of months, when she goes to visit her dad (my son), she may be in proximity to a man who was incarcerated for molestation. This man is the brother of my son's girlfriend, and the two siblings live together in their parents' home. I am very anxious about this.
I plan to tell my son that it would be best for his daughter's safety and security if he would change the visitation location.
I have spoken to my granddaughter (when she visits me) about speaking up strongly and loudly if anyone makes physical overtures toward her. However, I am concerned about whether I spoke appropriately and specifically enough.
Where can I get information and training on how to educate my granddaughter on protecting herself?
— Anxious grandma
Dear Grandma: I appreciate your desire to teach your granddaughter to "protect herself," but a 6-year-old cannot protect herself from a pedophile, and your training puts the burden on her to somehow fend off molestation. Body awareness, age-appropriate information and confidence-boosting encouragement is all good. But a 6-year-old cannot protect herself from an adult predator.
The person you need to "train" is your son. His daughter is not safe in any proximity to a sex offender.
If you believe your son will take his daughter anywhere near the household where the sex offender lives, or if he allows the offender any contact at all with the child in another environment, you should call the police or child protective services, and (in my opinion) the whole crew should be charged with child endangerment.
Your son's visitation with his daughter should take place at your home.
A straightforward book on this topic is "Predators and Child Molesters: What Every Parent Needs to Know to Keep Kids Safe," by former sex crimes prosecutor Robin Sax (2009, Prometheus Books).
Dear Amy: What's the difference between a reason and an excuse?
Dear Wendy: A reason is a plausible explanation for someone's behavior.
An excuse is offered when a person doesn't have an actual reason to justify behavior and its consequences. An excuse is usually given as a substitute for personal responsibility.
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