A former child abuse cop shares three things parents should ‘never’ let their kids do
A former child abuse detective has warned parents against letting their children go to sleepovers, saying it’s something she would “never” do after her experience as a police officer.
Kristi McVee, now a child protection educator after 10 years with the Western Australian Police Service, said sleepovers were among three things “all parents should be aware of” to protect their children.
In a video posted to TikTok, she said sleepovers were a “no no,” especially for young children.
“Children are vulnerable, they don’t always have the language, the skills or the confidence to help themselves when or to get help if something happens,” Ms McVee said in the video.
She said sleepovers were “one of the biggest things” she’s seen people and other children being abused for.
“Certainly sleepovers are a no no until the kids grow up.”
Ms McVee also warned against “blindly trusting anyone” or letting young children have unsupervised or unrestricted access to the internet.
“After the thousands of kids I’ve spoken to, the number of people I’ve heard from on both this app and the other apps, I just think we need to remember that the safety of our children is our responsibility,” she said.
“We cannot trust anyone. Even if nothing happened to you with this person in your childhood, unfortunately that does not mean that it will not happen to your child.
She said the warning applies to parents, grandparents, partners, friends, partners of friends, cousins, even other children – “that’s everyone”.
Regarding internet use, the former child investigator said that despite the dangers of letting children use it freely and the risk of being exposed to inappropriate content, “we ‘use as a child care device’.
“In my experience, I’ve seen kids who had unrestricted access…they’ve been exposed to pornography, they’ve been primed online,” Ms. McVee said, noting that inappropriate content had serious impacts on long term.
“(It) actually impacts their mental health and their future learning. This impacts their potential to abuse other children…there are so many reasons for this.
She said cutting them isn’t quite realistic, but “it should never be free for everyone”.
Children should be supervised and only use devices in a common area with parents around. and not when they are alone in their room.
The video gained hundreds of thousands of views and hundreds of comments thanking the ex-WA cop for listing.
“Fantastic advice! I used to be so mad at my parents for not allowing me to go to sleepovers. I’m a parent now and I DEFINITELY get it now!” one user commented.
“As a child I was never allowed to sleep at home and thought it was so unfair, but now as an adult I don’t plan on leaving my future children either,” another wrote. .
In later videos, Ms McVee added that whether or not a child can go to a sleepover depends on whether they know their protective behaviors and how confident they are in expressing their rights to safety.
She said she sent her daughter to sleepovers as a child after a ‘vetting process’ and encouraged parents to do the same, including asking about sleeping arrangements, which they will do, who is caring for them and who was in the house, including children, and what are the rules regarding appliances.
“Are they going to be on devices and are (parents) taking devices off at some point? Because that’s also where kids get access to pornography and Omegle and things like that,” Ms McVee said.
She urged parents to teach children about their own body safety rights, protective behaviors and consent – including knowing the very simple ‘stop it, I don’t like it’ message, which could control safe people.
She said she was “very cautious” of people who disrespected a child by expressing their boundaries or who expected children to do things like hug or kiss others “because they are a child”.
“Not everyone will agree with you when it comes to keeping your child safe,” she said. “But if when you talk to someone and you even think they might not understand, they respect that, then they’re a safe person in my eyes.”