I do to protect my child?
Child sexual abuse seems to be subject
de jour these days. And well it should be as it is criminal
behavior whose threat can only be avoided by responsible and
informed parenting. What specifically can be done? What
tangible actions can be taken?
Let’s review some basic
rules of safe parenting:
1. Talk to your children. Talk to them about their lives, worries, hopes. Keep the
lines of communication open with your children particularly
as they get older. That’s their only lifeline. Remember also
that their business IS your business despite what they may
think – it’s what keeps them safe. As parents we are
parents, not their friends. Our job is to protect them
Talk to them about their bodies and their sexuality;
appropriate to their age. Get over any embarrassment you may
have or reluctance to do so for religious or other reasons.
We are intimately familiar with our genitalia from the
moment we are born; a child's curiosity about their own and
those of the opposite sex is perfectly normal. When you get
down to it, there’s not that much involved. The rule that
nobody should touch them there is a simple one and even the
youngest child will understand. Tell them what to do if it
should happen - they should come straight to you.
Keep the opportunity for one-to-one contacts between your
child and other adults or adolescents to zero.
is no opportunity for someone to be alone with your child
there will be no opportunity for abuse. Be present at doctor
visits; at the soccer game; at music practice. Don’t use a
boyfriend to pick up your children if you’re running late.
Nobody but you has the right to be alone with your child.
Empower your child by acknowledging the presence of their
own “inner voice”, the sense they innately possess that
something “feels” wrong.
tell them that only they have the power to act when they
feel a circumstance is not right irrespective of who is
involved. They must know and trust that you will support
4. Talk to your family
and friends frequently about the abuse and its various
Abuse will be curtailed when it is part of everyday
conversation. Tell them where they can learn about it (this
website is one option). If there is an abuser in your circle
this attention is not something they want and will drive
their interests away from your child.
5. Take personal
responsibility for your child; don’t delegate it to anyone
else no matter how tempting it is.
you suspect sexual abuse of your children or other children,
take action immediately. That is
our - your - responsibility. Depending on your area,
probably the best first number to call; they'll give you the
abuse hotline number in your area. Don’t rationalize; don’t
doubt your child, our job is to protect them. If you’re
wrong, you’re wrong. If you’re right you may well have saved
your child’s life in more ways than one.