As news broke last week about the Dugger sexual abuse accusations, I found myself in shock and saying not the Duggers! Is anyone safe? Is it just me or does it seem like children are in more danger now than ever before? As a mother of an 8 year old I am mortified to think of the danger that appears to be lurking in every corner. How can we keep our kids safe in this society?
5 Ways to Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse
1. Talk to your child ASAP. This can feel like an awkward conversation to have but it’s important to be as clear as possible while trying to stay age appropriate. The key is to be as open and honest with your child without scaring them. It’s best to start early by setting healthy boundaries with your children surrounding body parts and identifying what is appropriate. There are plenty of resources out there see “Some Parts are not for Sharing” By: Julie K. Federico.
2. Ask questions. Often times we simply don’t know because we don’t ask. Making it a habit to have talk time with your child will position you to be in the know of what is going on in their life. I tend to ask my daughter open-ended questions that at times lead to hearing things I don’t particularly like but I hold back any reaction that will keep her from telling me more and when I hear something that sounds questionable I dig in until I have clarification. This type of dialogue gives me the opportunity to have a bird’s eye view of her daily interactions with others.
3. Be Cautious. Be protective and don’t entrust your child to everyone. Studies show that most sexual offenses on children are by someone they know but we can still take as much precaution as possible especially when they are too young to communicate effectively. If your child has a sleepover follow up with questions like, “did you feel comfortable at Sally’s house?” “Who was there and what types of games did you play?” If your gut tells you not to trust someone with your child follow your instinct and don’t.
4. Follow through. If your child ever comes to you with anything that seems off don’t ignore it! Even if it seems unbelievable take the time to listen. It takes a lot of courage for a child to speak up and the worst thing we can do is discourage them by blowing it off. If they express feeling uncomfortable around someone take their concern seriously.
5. Give them the tools. Educate them on how to say no. We instruct our children to listen and be respectful of adults but this can confuse a child into thinking that they should always do as they are told. Empower your child to say no, yell, kick and scream if they have to. Talk to them about how they can protect themselves. I have found it helpful to role-play with my daughter on how she would handle a dangerous situation.
It is so unsettling to feel that our children are at risk but they are. We can’t control the danger out there but we can do everything within our power to keep our children safe. This starts by communicating and educating our children about what is safe and acceptable and what to do if they are put in a situation where they feel uncomfortable. As parents our job is to be aware and pay attention.
Veronica is dedicated to working with couples wanting to restore and or enrich their relationships through Life Counseling Solutions- Orlando Community Counseling Program. She is also passionate about helping individuals learn how to cope with the loss of a relationship and successful co-parenting. Veronica longs to help individuals overcome issues of abandonment, loneliness, depression and low self-esteem. Veronica also has a heart for the elderly and personally understands the challenges that come from caring for an aging parent. She is able to help families find strength and the tools to be successful during difficult transitions. Read more here…
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