THE REALITY OF CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE
Child sexual abuse is one of the most serious issue of our times that affects the lives of far too many children. It’s estimated that a staggering 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse. Even more disturbing is the fact that these numbers don’t reflect the 95% of people whose sexual abuse is thought to go unreported.
Child sexual abuse is found within all cultures and communities, and affects children of all ages—regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, education, or gender. Sadly, no child is completely immune to the risk of sexual abuse.
A child who has been abused may experience a range of behavioral, physical, emotional, and psychological difficulties—and the devastating consequences of abuse can extend well into adulthood. Adult survivors may suffer from depression or drug and alcohol abuse, and are often plagued with overwhelming feelings of guilt, shame and self-blame, among many other long-term effects.
Child sexual abuse can also deeply affect those who are trying to help a loved one recover from an abusive experience. In some cases, it can completely shatter families.
EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN
It can be uncomfortable to talk to children about child sexual abuse, but talking openly with children about sexual development and sexual abuse is key to preventing abuse. Not only does it help to foster a supportive and healthy adult-child relationship, but it also creates a safe space where children can bring up problems or concerns, or talk about sexual abuse should it occur.
There are many ways to comfortably and appropriately talk with children about sexual development and child sexual abuse. Specific conversational techniques vary depending on the age of the child and your relationship to them, but a few common guiding principles include:
• Using proper names for body parts and processes
• Explaining the importance of personal boundaries
• Reinforcing that it’s alright to say ‘no’
As children grow, they naturally become more curious about their bodies and the bodies of others. It’s important to take advantage of teachable
It is also an adult responsibility to educate our child/children and begin the communication about this taboo topic.
The Five B’s” to bridge the gap in educating your children ages 2-6.
Be Brave: Yell and Tell
Be Bold and Believe
EDUCATE THE COMMUNITY
It is crucial that we work together to ensure that this educational program reaches every child in America. We are aiming to reach the children that are being sexually violated in their own homes.
If you are a teacher and/or parent that is passionate about this educational program, please communicate the importuners of this to your school counselor and/or administrator in your school and/or the school where your child participates.
ENCOURAGE OURSELVES, OUR CHILDREN, AND THE COMMUNITY
It is so important that we support, believe, and encourage anyone who has an instinct that someone might harm a child and/or sees grooming behaviors in action. This can be a traumatic experience and nobody wants to feel this way about someone they know and trust.
We must also believe any child that reports any type of abuse. We want to make sure and always err on the side of the child.
EMPOWER OURSELVES, OUR CHILDREN, AND THE COMMUNITY
While this topic has been so taboo in the past, let’s empower each other to start talking about it so that sexual abuse becomes a subject of our past. We owe it to our children and to the future of this country.
KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN
Many people believe that predatory strangers are most likely to engage in sexually abusive behavior. But in 95% of cases, a child who has been sexually abused will know their abuser.[v] The chance of it being a stranger is much lower—although still possible.
Abusers can be any age, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and may even be described as friendly, or good with children. Ultimately, abusers often appear and act just like any other person.
It’s important to watch for signs of abusive behavior in adults. In particular, be on the lookout for indications of grooming, such as excessive physical contact, making frequent sexual references with children present, or displaying favoritism.
You should be particularly cautious when an adult insists on spending one-on-one time with your child. In this instance, you should always question whether or not alone time is necessary. If it is, be proactive in monitoring the situation by ensuring they meet in a public place or in a room with a window, and making it clear that you will be stopping by during their time together.
At all times, it’s important to listen to your child and take notice of any physical, emotional, or behavioral changes. Although such changes do not necessarily mean that a child has been sexually abused, recognizing when a child appears stressed is a critical first step in getting them the support they need—whether or not the stress is due to sexual abuse.
The most important thing you can do to keep your child safe from child sexual abuse is to get educated.