Some of you may remember this post, Protecting Kids From Sexual Abuse, that I wrote in October. Because of some things that happened in my daughter's second grade class, my husband and I realized the need to address this issue.
Let's face it, this is never going to be an easy or fun topic to talk about, but it also should not be ignored. The topic of protecting our kids from sexual abuse is sometimes scary or difficult to approach. This is why I think everyone should have a copy of Some Secrets Hurt was written by Linda Kay Garner.
I told Linda I wanted to review her book and she was kind enough to share the following information:
1. The Scary Truth In the U.S. today more than one in four girls and more than one in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. One third of those who are sexually abused will never tell anyone. Ninety percent of abused children are abused not by strangers but by someone they know and trust. Often it is a family member or close friend of the family. A child is nine times more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know than by a stranger. Teenagers as well as children are targets for abuse. Women and men can be abusers. Older children can be abusers.
2. Blurred Lines Children are confused and bewildered when abused by a family member. If they tell, will they get someone they love in trouble? If they tell, will anyone believe. If they tell, will someone blame them. Adults are confused about how to handle the situation when the abuser is a family member. Should they go to the authorities? Will this tear the family apart? How far does family loyalty go? Could the child be exaggerating.
3. Secrecy Abuse thrives in secrecy. The abuser depends on secrecy to carry his/her works of darkness. He or she may enforce the secrecy with presents, flattery, guilt, shame, threats, or fear. Parents may contribute to the secrecy by choosing not to talk about sexuality. When abuse is discovered well meaning parents may encourage the child to forgive and forget, thus burying the secret and delaying healing.
If we want to prevent sexual abuse, we need to start talking. We need to open the lines of communication and teach with clarity. I wrote Some Secrets Hurt as a tool to help parents open that door. Here are some things that parents can do to help prevent child abuse.
1. Be a Safe Person for your child to talk to. Talk about lots of things, important and trivial. Cultivate a strong relationship and be willing to talk about anything.
2. Teach children about the sacredness of their bodies. Regardless of your religious preference, children need this anchor. Tell them that no one has the right to touch them inappropriately. Help them to understand inappropriate touch. A simple explanation of body parts that are private are those that are normally covered by a swimsuit.
3. Model modesty. Model appropriateness. Wear a bathrobe when running around the house without clothing. Close doors when using the bathroom. Teach boys and girls to bathe and dress in privacy.
4. Give children experience in decision making. Give children opportunities to develop talents, confidence and communications skills. Be a good listener and teach children that their ideas, opinions and feelings matter.
5. Know the warning signs for sexual abuse and notice anything that feels uncomfortable. Pay attention to your feelings and check out anything that seems unusual. Know where your children are and who they are with. Be involved. If you discover abuse, stay calm. If you overreact your child may shut down. Take step to protect your child and to encourage healing.