Most children are abused by someone they know and trust! Sexual abuse is also prevalent with teens; and the abuse can also occur in a dating relationship. Even though adults are the main perpetrators, an estimated 23% of perpetrators are under the age of 18. Studies show that exposure to pornography has adverse effects linked to sexual illness. Girls and boys are both at risk of being victims of sexual abuse.
How to tell and what to do
As a parent there are ways to tell if your child has been victimized. Once this problem has been identified there are certain steps to take to help your loved one. The main question at hand is, what can you do to prevent such a heinous crime from happening to your child? Local experts gave their input concerning this matter:
Marriage and Family Therapist, Carlos Cardenas, said, “Education is the strongest weapon…Its best to have them aware of things like bad touch, inappropriate behaviors, and outlets for safety. Creating a dialogue about these things and opening a channel in the event of anything happening so they will feel comfortable expressing what happened.”
Gabriela Galvan de Antillon indicated that, “No child can be “child proofed” from sexual abuse. However, as a parent you can empower your child or a loved one to be more aware and resistant to such events.” To begin, it is important to, “Develop a supportive home to ensure a child feels safe to communicate.”
Preventing with education
When educating your child consider the following 12 tips to help prevent them from being victims of sexual abuse:
1. Have a ‘Safety Network’, which is one person in the home and 2 other trusted people outside of the home” that your children can rely on, said Gabriela Galvan de Antillon.
2. “Talk about sex to your children in an age-appropriate way, using the correct terms for body parts,” added Galvan de Antillon. To which she also suggests to talk about sexual abuse, in an age-appropriate manner.
3. Help your children remember parent or guardian’s name(s), address, and phone number.
4. Emphasize that grown-ups don’t ask kids for help, they ask other adults.
5. Help them realize that adults should not tell kids secrets.
6. Be aware of your children at all times, and do not leave them unsupervised.
7. Replace the word “stranger” with “tricky person”… “Anyone who tries to get a child to break their safety rules or hurt their body is not okay” (safelyeverafter.com). Note: If you child is in a situation outside of the home where they need help they may need to talk to a stranger. A suggestion is to, “…FREEZE & YELL or go to a mom with kids”.
8. Teach about private areas: “everybody’s bathing suit areas are private areas”; and let them know that they are the boss of their body.
9. It’s okay to say NO: Teach the following principle: “I don’t have to be POLITE, if someone makes me feel scared or uncomfortable. It’s okay to say NO… even to a grownup, if I have to.”
10. Teach children about the "Uh-Oh" feeling: “I will always pay attention to my Special Inner Voice, especially if I get an “uh-oh” feeling.”
11. Let them know to not accept anything or go anywhere without asking someone from the safety network first, starting with the person from home.
12. It's okay to tell: Let your children know that it is okay to tell an adult (from the Safety Network) if anything happened to them that made them feel uncomfortable. Remind them they will not be at fault if they speak up.
Books to educate children:
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