The Crime of Child Sexual Abuse thrives off of Silence & Secrets. Sexual Predators count on both.
TALK TO YOUR CHILD…THEY ARE THE FUTURE. THEY CAN HELP STOP THE CYCLE OF CHILD ABUSE.
We talk to our children about many things… the importance of education, the dangers of drugs and alcohol, be good in school, listen to authority etc… We may even mention to our little ones that no one should ever touch their private parts, and we assume that if anyone ever did, that our child would tell us, RIGHT?
What if the abuser was a family member or another authority figure like a pastor, coach or a babysitter? Now what do they do? We didn't give them the other options to choose from. We didn't tell them that the very people who love you, might want to hurt you. How do we tell our children about this reality? We tell our children not to talk to strangers but the stranger may be the very person who could save their lives. My Mother and my Aunt both told me about such crimes but neither wanted to believe me when I told them it was a family member and a family friend. We just don't want to believe that someone who is a friend or family member would do such harm to a child. If it had been a stranger, maybe they would have believed me?
I have been watching true story documentaries lately, trying to get a handle on what we as a country have to do to stop these heinous crimes. one of them, called, "Rewind," was about a boy and his sister who were abused by uncles and a cousin but nobody suspected because everyone seemed so happy and pretentious. When the young man became an adult, he looked back on some family videos, trying to remember what was going on in his life at the time. Memories were triggered truth was exposed. He decided to rewind history and tell his story as well as become a spokesman and advocate for other children who are going through what he did.
An abused child often knows their abuser. The pedophile has built a rapport with them and has groomed them for the intent purpose of sexual acts. These sexual predators of children are not strangers in most cases and often put themselves in the life of a child for their own selfish purpose. We'd like to believe otherwise but with the statistics as high as they are, we can no longer deny that there is a huge problem. The fear I most often hear from parents, "I don't want to expose them to unnecessary fears nor do I want to put ideas in their heads. However, by not talking to children about sexual abuse, parents may unknowingly and unintentionally enabling their children to be “easy prey” for the many sexual predators out there. We may just have to take it a step further and tell them that good people can sometimes do bad things, and they need to be held accountable.
After all, when a child misbehaves, they expect a consequence for the behavior, (if that is what you teach them). But when an adult misbehaves, it is oftentimes over-looked. As a child observing this, they internalize a double standard must be okay and may get angry/ act out because of it. A child does not know how to process this, other than misbehaving. We must look deeper in to the meaning behind the behavior, not just react to it with immediate punishment.
You cannot equip or protect your child from sexual abuse without becoming educated on this crime yourself and then talking to your child…specifically about rape, incest, molestation and sexual exploitation; at the age-appropriate level. There is still no guarantee of prevention. However, the likelihood of prevention is so much greater when both you and your child are educated about this crime.
Children need to know the dangers out there. Just as if teaching them how to swim before they jump in the ocean or the safety of using a weapon before going hunting. They need to know that if abuse happens or is happening to them, that they can come to you. They need to know that no matter who may be doing this to them, that you will believe them. They need to feel safe to tell on the abuser no matter who the perpetrator is and no matter the threat, (i.e. "I will kill you or your Mother"), they should not be afraid, because you will make sure to get protection you need.
Most children are sexually abused and silenced by someone they know and in far too many cases, by someone they love and trust. Explain to your child that although they are generally expected to respect adults and authority, that there are exceptions to that rule. Teach them it is ok to say “No” and that it is important that they “Tell”.