Children often are sexually abused by someone they know – family members, friends, or authority figures like teachers, coaches, and babysitters. They often won’t tell anyone about the abuse, even when it is traumatic.
Educating yourself on warning signs and taking an active role in your child’s daily life can make them more comfortable to speak up.
Talk to Your Child About Sexual Abuse
Children who know they can talk to a trusted adult are less likely to fall prey to sexual abuse. It is essential to start talking with your child about their body and boundaries at a young age and continue these conversations throughout childhood and adolescence.
It is also essential to teach your child about safe touching, such as hugs from friends and relatives, and that they have the right to say no when someone makes them uncomfortable. It is also helpful to help your child develop healthy self-esteem, which can be difficult for children victimized.
Please respect their privacy and choose a time and place to talk when they are relaxed and relaxed. Reassure them that they won’t get in trouble if they tell you something.
Teach Your Child About Boundaries
A key to preventing sibling sexual abuse is educating kids about boundaries and guidelines for healthy relationships. This is done by talking openly with children and using age-appropriate teaching exercises.
One example is explaining that every person has a “space bubble” that others should respect. Another is reminding children that their bodies are their own and that no one can touch them if they don’t want to be touched, even if it’s something like a hug or tickle.
To reinforce these messages, be involved in your child’s life. This can make warning signs more prominent and help them feel comfortable coming to you with concerns about the people in their lives. It also helps if you’re consistent with rules and consequences. Saying you won’t allow certain things one day and then turning around and allowing them the next can send confusing messages.
Be Involved in Your Child’s Life
While staying involved in your children’s lives with work, school, and other responsibilities may be challenging, listening to them can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious. Showing you care about them can also make your children feel comfortable talking to you when something isn’t right.
Most cases of CSA involve someone that the victim knows or trusts. Abusers often use techniques like displaying affection, giving gifts, or filling a need in the child’s life to gain their trust and abuse them.
Evidence-based universal prevention programs teach children of all ages about body autonomy, safety, and consent. These programs also include training for adults with frequent contact with kids, such as teachers and first responders.
Be Respectful of Your Child’s Privacy
A common characteristic of child sexual abuse is an imbalance of power and control. Children confident in their body control are less likely to become victims of sexual predators and are more likely to speak up if they feel uneasy or afraid.
Teach your children to respect others’ privacy and modesty by never sharing personal information about them without their permission, such as names, addresses, phone number, or school uniforms. This also means not taking or sharing photos of them that could identify them.
Help your children learn to trust their instincts and let them know they should speak up if they ever feel uncomfortable with a friend, family member, or adult. They should be taught to say “no” and use words to express this, especially if asked to see or touch private parts.
Keep Your Child Safe
Listening and taking them seriously is essential if your child tells you they are being abused. Reassure them that they will not get into trouble for telling you. Talking about abuse requires great bravery, and children who do so are more likely to receive the necessary support.
A known individual commits the majority of child sexual abuse. Teach your child about grooming and recognizing it so they can trust their instincts and tell you something is wrong.
Support programs in your community that provide support for children and families. This can include after-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care. The more support a child receives, the less likely they are to think that their abuse was their fault and that reporting is selfish.