It is not, we repeat, not our children's responsibility to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse. There is so much that we need do to keep children from the very situations that may put their body safety education to the test. So if we want to seriously take a stand against abuse, we have to do everything we can - first.
1. Understand How Abuse Occurs
Also, that a considerable amount of time is needed to abuse a child. But, in reality, a few minutes to even a matter of seconds is all that it takes.
Take, for example, this case where a boy was charged with sexually abusing his cousin while his mother was in a different part of the house.
2. KNow The Red Flags of Predators
Signs include but are not limited to, someone who:
- Seems to spend more time with children than people their age and/or appears childish in nature.
- Seems very attentive to a specific child.
- Is a new family friends or romantic interests (especially for single parents) that seem quick to establish themselves within the family or with the child. Maybe very helpful, charitable, extend gifts and flattery toward the parents and/or the child.
- Shows excessive affection/roughhousing with the child, often with a disregard for the child's personal boundaries.
- Makes sexually inappropriate comments in regard to children.
- Lacks respect for privacy - in bedrooms/bathrooms.
For more on abusers, click here.
Check out our Red Flags of Predators blog post.
And our Could You Spot a Groomer post.
3. Minimizing Opportunity is the Most Effective Way To Protect Children
Not all offenders seek out children to abuse, many are "opportunity offenders" meaning they find themselves in a situation where they can abuse a child and take advantage of the situation. It is often situations like this, where much abuse is perpetrated. These offenders can be family members or longtime friends of the family and don't need to "groom" the family or child - the trust has already been established.
When abuse is committed by such known, trusted, and often loved offenders - it can go undetected for a long period of time, because people are not attuned to even suspecting these offenders as being capable of abuse. It can be harder for victims to come forward because they themselves love and care for this person, don't know if they'll be believed, or they may not want to upset their family. And sadly, if a child does have the courage to tell their family - denial is often the first reaction. Even if the family does believe the child, this does not mean that the abuse will be reported. Because offenders are generally "likable" people, it becomes a struggle for people to do what is right (report) and do what is easy (ignore).
Regardless if offenders are predatory or opportunistic, minimizing 1:1 situations involving children and adults/peers as best we can, is the best way to protect children. For more, click here.
4. Know the Signs of Abuse
We should not, and cannot leave it up to children to tell someone if they've been abused. It is our responsibility to know the signs that may indicate a child has been or is experiencing abuse. And furthermore, it is also prudent that people (not just parents) be educated in how to handle a disclosure of abuse or how to proceed if they suspect abuse.
For signs/symptoms of abuse, click here.
For handling disclosures/suspected abuse, click here.
5. Involve Others
If we are going to take child protection seriously, we have to accept that we cannot protect our children on our own, and that we have to engage others in the process.
It may not take a village to raise a child, but it does take a village to protect one.
For more, check out our 5 Ways to Deter a Pedophile Blog Post.
Check out our Educational Materials available.
The Mama Bear Effect, Inc is a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization. With your support we can continue to raise awareness and educate people on how to prevent the sexual abuse of children.