Keys to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children
Talking to kids can assist in prevention.
What do I tell my kids?
Many parents struggle with this question. As your children grow and mature, each family must decide what works for the culture of their particular household. What is most important for kids to understand is that abuse is never a child’s fault, it is not likely to be a “stranger,” and that people who have these kinds of problems need help from grownups to stop.
Choose how you will start the conversation.
Caring adults want to do whatever they can to protect children from the experience of being sexually violated, yet most aren’t sure how much to tell children. There are many ways to start the conversation: Do we tell them straight out that there are adults who sexually abuse children? Do we tell them “it probably won’t happen, but just in case, and we don’t know anyone like this, but you never know who it could be?” Maybe we are more comfortable talking about other kids or adults who might need help with sexual touching problems. Perhaps we set aside the specifics of the abusive behavior and talk in more general terms about good touch and bad touch? Choosing the right information at what age is a personal decision, yet we encourage you to choose a place to begin the conversation.
Caution over comfort.
Sometimes we must consider having talks with our kids that may make us uncomfortable so that they can have the accurate information they need to stay safe in a world where sexual information is readily available – whether our kids ask for it or not.
Give them tools they can use for a lifetime
Understanding what is appropriate behavior
There are many important topics to raise with children and teens which help prevent abuse and give them valuable confidence and knowledge about their bodies and their sexuality that is actually protective now and in the future. Children need accurate, age-appropriate information about healthy sexuality, as well as information about unacceptable behaviors among their peers or in adults.
Adults cannot rely on children disclosing abuse
Experience and research has taught us that action by adults can be more effective than expecting kids to protect themselves from sexual abuse. Kids shouldn’t have the responsibility to recognize and challenge unsafe behaviors. We know from national statistics that most child sexual abuse is never disclosed, (88%), perhaps largely due to the fact that children are under too much pressure to keep it a secret. Given the binds that most children find themselves in when sexual abuse has occurred, it is unrealistic to assume that they will be able to tell an adult. We know that some children do tell, but we must acknowledge that the chances are greater that they will not.
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- Recognizing Warning Signs
- Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse
- How Abuse Happens
- Understanding Sexual Behavior in Kids
- Warning Signs in Adults and Children
- Warning Signs of Abuse in Children (Behavioral and Physical)
- Signs an Adult May be At-Risk to Harm a Child
- Behaviors to Watch Out for When Adults are with Children
- How Can I Tell if My Child Has Been Sexually Abused?
- Warning Signs a Young Person May Be a Target of Online Sexual Abuse
- Warning Signs of Someone's Dangerous or Illegal Online Activity
- Prevention and Safety
- Keys to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children
- Creating a Plan for Safety
- Considering Filing Reports
- Talking About It
- Finding the Courage to Speak Up
- Speaking to Someone with a Sexual Behavior Problem
- When a Child Tells About Sexual Abuse
- How Should I Respond to the Child?
- What Should I Do after a Child Tells?
- How Can I Better Understand What My Child is Going Through?
- Possible Reactions of Non-Offending Parents and Caring Adults
- Is the Child Telling Me the Truth?
- What Might the Person Who Has Offended Be Thinking or Feeling after a Disclosure?
- Recovery and Therapy
- For Children and Adults Who Have Been Abused
- For Those At-Risk to Abuse Others or Who Have Offended
- For Parents and Caregivers
- Reporting and Legal Issues
- Filing Reports
- Child Protective Services and Police
- Legal Issues