How to Protect a Child From Being Sexually Abused

I teach a course in how to protect children from sexual abuse to professionals, child care agencies, and parents. Preventing child sexual abuse is the responsibility of adults, however much of the emphasis is put on children to stop sexual abuse. We teach our children to say “no” to unwanted touch, and to tell an adult if someone touches them inappropriately. Unfortunately when those are the only steps we are taking, the sole responsibility to stop sexual abuse is on the children.

There are many steps that adults can take to protect children from sexual abuse. The steps are simple and can implemented very easily. Much of the awareness about child molestation is learning about why children are abused and the frequency with which it happens. The statistics are alarming and sexual abuse of children is an epidemic in our society. Learning about child abuse, the grooming process and how sexual predators take advantage of children is part of the prevention.

Take Steps to Prevent Sexual Molestation of Children

The statistics regarding sexual abuse are alarming. Certainly if more people were aware of this epidemic there would be more action being taken to prevent the sexual molesting of children. The statistics for sexual abuse are: 1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 6 boys will experience an unwanted sexual act before the age of 18.

Can you imagine if we had 1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 6 boys being hit by car before the age of 18 how different we would be treating this problem. Everyone would be talking about it? We’d see billboards that said “don’t hit kids with your car”, and we’d be warning each other not to hit kids with our cars. However sexual abuse is a topic we are uncomfortable speaking about, and unfortunately it thrives in the secrecy. We need to bring the topic out in the open and start talking about it, or it will never stop.

Who Abuses Children? It’s Usually People the Child Knows

Many people believe that we need to warn our children about strangers because they are most likely to be child molesters. I know I warned my own kids about strangers, and I never gave any thought to warning them about people they know. The reality is that 95% of the time the child knows the abuser. Though strangers do molest children, it is more likely that the child will be sexual abused by a person they know and trust.

Reduce the Risk, Re-think One on One Situations

It’s very important for children to have alone time with an adult, however those are the situations where children are at most risk for sexual abuse. In order to reduce the likelihood of a child being abused when they are alone with an adult it’s important that we make the situation less risky. Choose group activities whenever possible.

Simple things like windows in doors or walls allow an adult to be alone with a child, but all their actions can be observed by passersby. It’s also important that the interaction be interruptible, so keep doors open rather than shut. If a child is in daycare situation or with a babysitter, drop in unexpectedly. If the operator of a day home isn’t open to you dropping occasionally, then think about moving your child to another babysitting service that doesn’t mind you dropping in.

Take a look around the building your child will be in. Is the area open and viewable from everywhere, or are there lots of rooms and closed doors?

Ask Organizations About Policies and Sexual Abuse Prevention Training

Make sure you ask questions when you enroll your child in any program or organization. Ask how the organization screens staff and volunteers. They should be doing more than just criminal checks. A criminal check alone is not adequate because sexual abuse often goes unreported, so most child molesters will pass a criminal check. A comprehensive check consists of personal interviews, reference checks and checking conduct in previous jobs and positions held.

Ask what policies the organization has for one on one situations and ask how they monitor it, as a policy alone won’t help if it isn’t being enforced. Also ask what training the staff has taken to prevent sexual abuse. The training should consist of knowing the signs of sexual abuse and how to report it. The organization should also have a procedure in place for suspicious behavior and allegations of abuse.

Ask Questions, Check-in With Your Child

When you drop your child off ask the adult what the planned activities are. Are they able to state clearly and specifically what the child is going to do? When you pick up your child ask the person the child has been with, what they did. Then check in with your child and ask them what they did. Do the stories match? Notice your child’s mood. Is the child speaking happily about the time spent? Can the child tell you specifically what they did?

Teach About Sexual Abuse With a Book – Prevent Child Abuse

Some Parts are Not for Sharing
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Some Parts are NOT for Sharing

Empower children by teaching them about their bodies with this book that uses simple drawings and sea creatures to teach them about their body parts.

Teach Your Child About Personal Safety

Sexual abuse education for children starts when they are babies. There are simple ways to talk to children about sexual abuse that don’t require a scary discussion about what a child molester might do to them. Use books to teach about improper touching and teach your child about sex in age appropriate terms.

Monitor Internet Use

Grooming and luring of children on the internet is becoming an increasing problem. Ensure you know what your child is doing on the internet. Teach your child about not giving out personal information when they are online.

Keep Communication Open and Be the Person Your Child Can Turn To

Let your child know that you are someone they can turn to. Sexual abuse thrives on shame and secrecy. Be open about talking to your children about sex and using the proper names for body parts. Show them that you are someone they can tell if they are being abused. Be aware that child on child abuse happens frequently and make sure your children know they shouldn’t touch each other sexually.