pink rose on a park swing. protect kids from unwanted attention

Every parent wants to know, “How do I protect my kid from the unwanted attention of adults?”  It is a serious issue and one that comes up in the news from time to time. Protect my kid from unwanted attention!!!

Use everyday events to start a conversation.

One of my favorite strategies is to use everyday events to start a conversation. To do this, I use whatever is in the news to begin. Whenever there’s a news story about kids being the target of unwanted attention, these stories always affect me deeply. Eventually, I had a talk with my girls about what to do in the event of unwanted attention.

Then it happened to my kid. 

There are a lot of examples of unwanted attention. It could be catcalling, or nonconsensual touching. Or it could be a creep staring your child down and making them uncomfortable, someone saying something rude or inappropriate, or like in the instance above with my daughter, a driver in a car following them a little too slowly or closely and pulling up to talk to them. Depending on what it is will require different responses.

And I know this fear Because it happened to me when I was in 2nd grade. 

After my incident, my parents made me take Tae Kwon Do at the local YMCA 


There are a variety of self-defense martial art forms that are great for giving a kid confidence in themselves and in their bodies. They also have the potential to save them from an awful situation, which is amazing. With my daughters, I talked about why self-defense classes would be a good thing for them and signed them up for two intensives with Krav Maga.

What about confrontation?

I’m not a person who is in favor of being confrontational. I don’t want to invite an unwanted interaction with a sassy “can I help you?” or an aggressive “WHAT?!” and I don’t want my kids to do so either. Maybe when they are older they could pull out a pocket knife, flip it open, and clean their fingernails with it, all while glaring menacingly back at their aggressor – like “don’t fuck with me”. But while they’re young, I want them to have a sensible solution, with a sensible approach, like this: 

Krav Maga – (spoke by Rory Miller)

Better to avoid than to run. 

Better to run than to deescalate. 

Better to deescalate than to fight. 

Better to fight than to die.  

But wait…

If I zoom out to the 30K foot view, I think about ALL of the above. I think about how utterly messed up it is that a parent should have to gear their child up for a lifetime of potential abuse and how to best avoid or minimize that. What other countries in the world are there where a child doesn’t have to be subjected to this? 

Yet here we are in 2020, and it’s still a thing. 

(Side note: I have another post stewing after watching the Netflix documentary “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich.” If you have the stomach for it, give it a watch so you’ll have some context when the post comes out.)

There is something that has been happening for years that makes boys who eventually grow into men who believe that they have any entitlement to a woman’s body, or dominion over vulnerable populations. Sure, women can be abusers as well, but the numbers skew heavily toward men.

The bottom line

The method of talking to our kids about protecting themselves from unwanted attention is the same as the conversations about consent, boundaries, bodily autonomy, agency over our own bodies, and knowing the proper names for the parts of the body. Be honest, straightforward, work together to come up with a solution you agree on. You can vulnerably share your fear. Just don’t use it as a scare tactic.

Together, you can work to protect your kid from unwanted attention.



p.s., If you want help with this breaking down this topic and don’t want to do this by yourself, head over here and we can begin a conversation. 

About the Author

The MamaSutra

Dr. Lanae St.John is a Diplomate of the American Board of Sexology and certified sex coach with a background in sexology and a passion for helping people improve their sexual health and relationships. She is the author of "Read Me: A Parental Primer for "The Talk"" and the upcoming "You Are the One: How stopping the search and looking inside will lead you to your romantic destiny," and is committed to staying up-to-date on the latest research and trends in the field. Dr. St.John aims to share her knowledge and expertise in a relatable and approachable way through her blog on

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