In honor of April being Child Abuse Prevention Month, this month I want to talk about prevention of child sexual abuse. There are things that we as adults can do to protect children and also teaching them safety strategies to protect themselves. The following is an easy list that parents, school teachers, coaches, and child care personnel can use as a quick guide on how to prevent Child Sexual Abuse.
- Take an active role in your child’s life. Be involved in their activities and people around them.
- Watch for “grooming” type behavior, which include other adults finding ways to be alone with your child, giving gifts or money for no particular reason, and ignoring you child’s privacy needs such as when using the bathroom.
- Make sure that groups like sports teams limit one on one time with your child between adults. Ask about how volunteers and other adults are screened and supervised.
- This one is important- make sure your child knows they can talk to you about anything that is bothering them or confusing to them.
- Educate your children- teach them the correct names for body parts (private parts) and the difference between good touch and unwanted touch.
- Explain to them it’s okay to say no to touch (even non sexual touch) and they have a right to their own bodies.
- Teach them to take care of their own bodies. Teach them how to take a shower, and go to the bathroom so they don’t have to rely on adults to do this for them.
- Educate them on the difference between good secrets and bad secrets.
- Monitor children’s use of technology, including cell phones, social networking sites, and messaging. Review contact lists regularly and ask about any people you don’t recognize.
- Trust your instincts! If you feel uneasy about leaving your child with someone, don’t do it. If you are concerned about possible sexual abuse, ask questions.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: If your child tells you that he or she has been abused, stay calm, listen carefully, and never blame the child. Thank your child for telling you. Report the abuse right away.
For more ways parents can protect their children, please visit our Forum under this topic.