Protecting Your Child

What adults can do to protect children from sexual predators

Because 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in one-adult/one-child situations, it is important to eliminate or reduce these situations to lower the risk of child sexual abuse. It is also important to examine or change policies about one-adult/one-child situations, hiring staff or volunteers, and reporting suspicious situations.  Even though one-on-one time can be risky, it is often important when building relationships between children and trusted adults. It is also important to learn ways to protect children when you want them to have this quality time with adults.

Talking to children about abuse is another important tool to protect children from sexual abuse.  All too often the children keep the abuse a secret, but providing open communication between children and adults can break communication barriers.  It may be a difficult topic to talk about, but below are just a few ways you can start:

  • Understand why children are afraid to tell
    1. The abuser threatens the child or family member
    2. The abuser shames the child or tells them that his or her parents will be angry
    3. Some children are too young to understand
    4. Many abusers tell the children the abuse is “okay” or a “game”
  • Know how children communicate
  1. Children may tell parts of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to gauge adult reaction
  • Talk openly with children
  1. Teach children about their bodies, about what abuse is, and, when appropriate, about sex
  2. Teach them that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual manner with them and use examples
  3. Teach them what parts of their bodies others shouldn’t touch
  4. Teach children not to give out their email addresses, home addresses, or phone numbers while on the internet
  • Talk to other adults about child sexual abuse
  1. You raise the consciousness of your community and influence their choices about child safety
  2. You put potential abusers on notice that you are paying attention
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