As a naturally suspicious person and father of two young boys, I have a hard time trusting anyone around my children. The stories are endless about the horrors that some kids endure at the hands of family, friends and those they are supposed to trust. I have begun my certification process to become a Guardian Ad Litem here in Jacksonville and in the process have been studying a lot more material.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway has an enormous amount of information regarding sexual and physical abuse of children. The below information was compiled on one of the tip sheets provided on their website.
What You Can Do To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
It is important to keep the focus on adult responsibility while teaching children skills to help them protect themselves. Consider the following tips:
- Take an active role in your children’s lives. Learn about their activities and people with whom they are involved. Stay alert for possible problems.
- Watch for “grooming” behaviors in adults who spend time with your child. Warning signs may include frequently finding ways to be alone with your child, ignoring your child’s need for privacy (e.g., in the bathroom), or giving gifts or money for no particular occasion.
- Ensure that organizations, groups, and teams that your children are involved with minimize one-on-one time between children and adults. Ask how staff and volunteers are screened and supervised.
- Make sure your children know that they can talk to you about anything that bothers or confuses them.
- Teach children accurate names of private body parts and the difference between touches that are “okay” and “not okay.”
- Empower children to make decisions about their bodies by allowing them age-appropriate privacy and encouraging them to say “no” when they do not want to touch or be touched by others—even in nonsexual ways.
- Teach children to take care of their own bodies (e.g., bathing or using the bathroom) so they do not have to rely on adults or older children for help.
- Educate children about the difference between good secrets (such as birthday surprises) and bad secrets (those that make the child feel unsafe or uncomfortable).
- Monitor children’s use of technology, including cell phones, social networking sites, and messaging. Review contact lists regularly and ask about any people you don’t recognize.
- Trust your instincts! If you feel uneasy about leaving your child with someone, don’t do it. If you are concerned about possible sexual abuse, ask questions.
- If your child tells you that he or she has been abused, stay calm, listen carefully, and never blame the child. Thank your child for telling you. Report the abuse right away.
This tip sheet was created using information from Prevent Child Abuse America, the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, the Enough Abuse Campaign, and Stop It Now. At https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/preventing/preventionmonth/resources/tip-sheets/, you can download this tip sheet and get more parenting tips, or call 800.394.3366.
If You or a Loved One Has Been the Victim of Sexual Abuse and You Have Questions
Please contact Clifton Law Office, you can reach me at my contact page online or call me directly at 904-209-4883.