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If you have children, you do everything you can to keep them safe. This includes having discussions with them about not talking to strangers. However, we know that most cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by someone the child knows.
Knowing this information, it is important to have a discussion with your child about sexual abuse. This can be a difficult topic to discuss, and you may not know where to start. Today, we want to discuss some of the steps you can take to protect your kids from child abuse.
Kids can learn the language they need to discuss their bodies and about boundaries when they are young. You can help them understand what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.
Teach them about their body and make sure they know what everything is called. Having a label for everything and opening the discussion makes a child more comfortable and less confused about “wrong” behavior. Make sure they know that some parts of the body are private and should not be looked at or touched by other people.
Let them know that it’s okay to say no. Children should learn to say “no” to anything that makes them uncomfortable.
Perpetrators of sexual abuse will often tell kids that what happened is a secret. Let your child know they can always talk to you, especially if someone else tells them to keep a secret. Make sure they know they won’t be in trouble. Fear of getting in trouble or getting their abuser in trouble often keeps children from discussing abuse. Let them know they will not be in trouble if something happens to them.
Always make time for your kids. They are not going to talk to you if you don’t give them time to talk. It may take some time for them to be comfortable saying anything to you, so give them your undivided attention and let them know you take what they say seriously.
Parents can also identify “trusted adults” in their child’s life. Ask them what other family members, adult friends, teachers, coaches, etc. they feel comfortable going to when they need help. Yes, in many cases of sexual abuse, the perpetrator seems like a “trusted adult,” but the more people your child can go to for help, the better. Understand that perpetrators of child abuse will often attempt to isolate a child from their friends and other adults to gain more control over them. By having multiple people a child can turn to, this isolation is less likely to occur.
In an age where everything is accessed through the Internet and social media, your kids will likely hear stories of sexual abuse in the news. You can use these stories to open a discussion with your child. Ask them if they understand what they have heard or seen. Depending on their age, you can explain various aspects of the story, tell them what happened, and let them know why what happened was wrong. This will help them be more likely to recognize an abusive situation in their lives or in the lives of their friends.