How to protect your children from sexual predators

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PHOENIX -- The recent rash of high-profile of alleged child abuse by adults in positions of authority -- people kids looked up to --has many parents wondering what they can do to protect their children.

Dr. Tim Kimmel, executive director of Family Matters® and author of "Grace Based Parenting," sat down with 3TV's Javier Soto to explain how knowledge is power, especially when it comes to safeguarding our kids. "It's so easy to be paranoid as a parent," Kimmel said. "Our culture has become very sexualized. Predators can move around among us.

"You don't need to be scared as a parent -- if you're prepared and make some right choices with your kids," he continued. "The more we prepare our kids with the right information, the more they will know what to do and how to even know if they're in a dangerous situation."

Kimmel suggested parents introduce the topic of sex in a discussion early on. This needs to take place when your kids are young -- younger than you might think. Kimmel said he and his wife explained sex to their kids when they started kindergarten.

"We let our culture frame the whole discussion about sex and morality too soon with our kids instead of us doing it," he said. "Our culture is screwed up and doesn't know what it's talking about. We don't want to let it frame anything."

The idea is to replace fear with confidence.

"If a person is afraid all the time, they're more vulnerable," Kimmel explained. "You want to give [your kids] balanced confidence."

Kimmel also said you need to spell out a clear plan, making sure your kids know exactly what to do if they find themselves in a potentially dangerous situation.

"We also have to run interference for them, too," Kimmel continued. That includes making sure you know the parents of your children's friends. Check the backgrounds of their teachers, babysitters and coaches.

"You can't be naïve about that," he said. "We have to say no to [our kids] some times."

These conversations shouldn't be one-time events. Kimmel says it's essential to maintain an ongoing dialogue.

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