Support for Families in Crisis
Education is one of the best ways to reduce your child’s risk of sexual abuse. Teaching your child not to talk to strangers is not enough; as most children are molested by someone they know such as a relative, family friend, or neighbor. Intelligent offenders with an understanding of children’s behaviors can lure your child with the following actions:
• Offering gifts, candy, or money.
• Appealing to a child’s sense of helpfulness by asking for help in finding a lost dog.
• Offering a ride on a motorcycle, trail bike, or in a sports car.
• Indicating parents or a loved one has been hurt and offering a ride home or to the hospital.
• Telling the child they were sent to pick them up by their parent or caregiver.
• Volunteering to fix a child’s bicycle or other broken item.
Parents should also take the following precautions:
• Encourage abuse prevention programs in your child’s school system.
• Teach children about their bodies and what is inappropriate and appropriate touching.
• Explain to your children which areas are sexual and private, such as the areas covered by their bathing suit.
• Use age appropriate terms for body parts and teach them that they do not have to be embarrassed to talk to you about them.
• Inform your child that you want them to let you know if anything happens that makes them feel uncomfortable, assure them that you will not be angry even if they broke a rule.
• Explain that people they know and trust may touch them in a way that feels wrong or funny and they can tell them “NO” or “not to do it again”. Let them know they need to tell you if this ever happens to them.
• Teach your child that their body belongs to them and that they have the right to say “NO” to anyone who touches them.
• Do not teach blind obedience to adults, or to do “whatever” a teacher, babysitter, or someone older tells them. Tell your child it is “OK” to say “NO” if someone wants them to do something they know or think is wrong.
• Teach your children not to keep secrets from you and don’t encourage secret keeping in your family. If it is something such as information about a present or party refer to it as a surprise that will be found out and give them the timeframe. Explain that people that love each other do not keep secrets from each other.
• Teach your child not to give personal information over the phone such as their address or that their parents aren’t home.
• Tell your child in advance if someone other than yourself is supposed to pick them up.
• Do not allow your child(ren) to go to parks, playgrounds, or pools alone. Encourage them to stay in groups of three or more in public places when they are out with friends.
• Investigate your babysitter by asking for recommendations and contacting other parents that have used them. Be cautious of babysitters that are loners and have no apparent friends.
• If you have experienced sexual abuse as a child be sure to get counseling and support. Children of adults that have been sexually abused are at a higher risk of abuse.