Parents will do anything to protect their children from harm, but most parents don’t even know the signs of sexual abuse in order to stop it from happening. Additionally, many parents don’t know what steps to take in order to help prevent their child from becoming a victim of sexual abuse in the first place.
While parents might not think that their son or daughter could become a victim of abuse, experts estimate that that one in ten children are victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18, and approximately 35 percent of these children are 11 years old or younger. This is why parents need to become more aware of the reality of child sexual abuse.
Recognizing the Signs
Many people think that child abuse involves anger or violence, but child sexual abuse could look quite the opposite. For example, an adult may take your child under his or her wings to give him or her extra coaching tips or tutoring. While you may think that a coach, teacher’s aid, or volunteer in a youth program is simply being nice to your child, that adult may be looking to groom your child to be his or her next victim. While many teachers and coaches do a wonderful job with children and are in these positions to help children, there are some adults that use their position for their own gratification. If an adult—even a teen babysitter—in your child’s life is being overly friendly or wanting to spend extra time with your child, it may be a red flag.
It is important that parents don’t find themselves thinking every adult in their child’s life is an abuser; however, having this knowledge does make parents ask more questions, become more aware of situations, and get to know people in their child’s life.
Although the topic of abuse is never an easy one to bring up, it is in most children’s’ best interest if parents have open discussions about child sexual abuse to break down the barriers and let children know what’s wrong and right. It is important that children know what a bad touch is and that just because an adult holds a position of authority doesn’t mean children have to do what he or she says when it comes to their bodies. Children need to know that they are the boss of their own bodies. Talk with children about their bodies and sexual boundaries and let them know if anyone touches them inappropriately they can say “No” and talk to you about it.