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What Can 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.

2. Keep the opportunity for one-to-one contacts between your child and other adults or adolescents to zero. If there 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.

3. Empower your child by acknowledging the presence of their own “inner voice”, the sense they innately possess that something “feels” wrong. And 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 their actions.

4. Talk to your family and friends frequently about the abuse and its various forms. 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.

6. If you suspect sexual abuse of your children or other children, take action immediately. That is our - your - responsibility. Depending on your area, 911 is 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.


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Child AbuseWatch (abusewatch.net)