Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right.
- About 1 in 10 children experience child sexual abuse before their 18th birthday
- 90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abusers
- 60% of children who are sexually abused are abused by people the family trusts
- Children living without either parent (Ie.. foster children) are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children living with both biological parents
- Children who live with a single parent who has a live-in partner are at the highest risk: they are 20 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents
- About 75% of child pornography victims are living at home when they are photographed. Parents are often responsible.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
- Use proper language. From an early age, teach children the names of their body parts. This will give them the tools they need to communicate when something is wrong.
- Teach boundaries. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Tell your child that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts.
- Secrets are not okay. Most perpetrators will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret. Tell your kids that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay and they should always tell you if someone tries to make them keep a body secret.
- Choose caregivers carefully. Whether it’s a babysitter, a new school, or an after-school activity, be diligent about screening caregivers for your child.
- Take an active role in your children’s lives. Learn about their activities and the people with whom they are involved. Stay alert for possible problems or opportunities for misconduct.
- Watch for grooming-type behaviors in adults who spend time with your child. Warning signs may include frequently finding ways to be alone with your child, or giving gifts or money for no particular occasion.
- Ensure that organizations, groups, and teams that your children are involved with minimize the one-on-one time between children and adults. Ask how staff and volunteers are screened and supervised. For many organizations, volunteers and staff must have a criminal background check and are not allowed to be one on one with a child.
- Have a code word your children can use when they feel unsafe or want to be picked up. As children get a little bit older, you can give them a code word that they can use when they are feeling unsafe. This can be used at home, when there are guests in the house or when they are on a play date or a sleepover.
- Talk about the media. Incidents of sexual violence are frequently covered by the news and portrayed in television shows. Take advantage of this coverage to start a conversation. Questions like, “Have you ever heard of this happening before?” or “What would you do if you were in this situation?” can signal to your child that these are important issues that they can talk about with you.
- Monitor your child/youth’s use of technology, including cell phones, social networking sites, and messaging. Review their online friend lists regularly and ask about any people you don’t recognize.