Tips For Teaching Kids To Prevent Sexual Abuse

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1. Put Safety First! The safety and self-esteem of a child are more  important  than  anyone’s  embarrassment,inconvenience, or offense. If you suspect that there is a safety problem,  especially  involving  children,  take  personal responsibility for doing something to address it. This means speaking  up persistently and widely  until effective action is taken to fix that problem. Don’t just tell someone, even if that person  is  in  a  position  of  authority,  and assume that  your responsibility  is  at  an  end.  Follow  up  to  see  what  is happening. Realize that children and young people who are being abused need help  and protection – and that anyone who is abusing them needs to be stopped.

2.  Make sure you know what  someone is  doing with your kids. Remember that anyone can be an abuser.   As parents and other caring adults, we need to face the realitythat  there  are  sexual  predators  who  will  create opportunities  to  be  alone  with kids  by doing  wonderful things with and for them. And, most of these offenders will seem like  really  nice  people  with  excellent  reputations.Many will even provide truly important services for most of the children they encounter. When people ask  what a child molester might look like, I say, “Look in the mirror –a molester can look just like anyone else!”Most adults who choose to do great things with kids are good  people  who  truly  want  to  help   and  these relationships can be  tremendously important  to  a young person.  However,  the  vulnerability  of  young  people  to anyone  put  into  these  positions  of  trust  is  why  more attention needs to be paid to screening these individuals and to following up thoroughly on any hint of a problem.

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Don’t  just  trust  people  just  because  they  are  part  of  a reputable organization, place of worship, or school. Check each  person  out  for  yourself,  especially  if  he  or  she  isgoing  to  be  alone  with  your  child..  Don’t  assume  thatsomeone  will  tell  you if  something  bad  happens.   Trust your  intuition  if  something  feels  uncomfortable  to  you.When in doubt, check it out!

3. LISTEN to your children and teach them not to  keep  unsafe  secrets. Most  abusers  initiate strong  relationships  with children  before  doing anything  sexual.  Often,  they  start  by  testing  a child’s  boundaries  by  being  inappropriate  in other ways, he would use a swear word to a boy in a church youth group and then say something like,“Oops! I just said a bad word. Please don’t tell your parents, because then we couldn’t have fun together any more.” He would then target boys who he was confident wouldn’t tell.

A pedophile’s  strong  advice  to  parents  about  protecting their kids from people like him was, “Listen to your  kids!” Get kids into the habit of talking to you by asking supportive  questions,  being  a  good  listener,  and  not lecturing. Pay attention to what they say. Let kids know that you care about what they are doing and want to know what is happening with them no matter how busy you are. Once  in  a  while,  in  a  calm,  conversational  way,  at  a peaceful  moment,  ask,  “Is  there  anything  you’ve  been wondering or worrying about that you haven’t told me?”Thank the child for telling you and listen with interest to the answers. Don’t tease, even if what the child says seems silly. Avoid scolding at that moment, even if the child has done something wrong.

4. Be very clear with all children in your life that secrets about problems, touch, favors, gifts someone gives them,photos or videos, privileges, time alone with anyone, and games  are  not  safe.  Their  job  is  to  tell  you  and  other adults  they  trust  instead  of  keeping  secrets,  even  if someone they care about will be upset or embarrassed.In many cases, pedophiles give kids alcohol or drugs as away to get them to lower their guard, sometimes molesting them while  they are  unconscious or  asleep.  They  might then threaten their victims with getting them into trouble by telling their parents. Make sure your children get this message from you often, “Even if you made a mistake or did something wrong, I will love you and help you. Pleasetell  me  about  anyone  whose  behavior  makes  you uncomfortable even if we really like this person so we can figure out what to do to keep everyone safe

5.  Prepare young people to take charge of their safety by practicing skills. One quick action can stop most abuse–  pushing  someone’s  hand  away,  ordering  someone  to stop,  leaving  as  soon  as  you  can,  resisting  emotional blackmail, and telling. Kids are more likely to be able to take  actions  like  these  when  they  need  to  if  they understand  their  safety  rules  and  have  the  chance  to practice  following  these  rules  in  a  fun,  age-appropriate way with trusted ones preferably parents.Using  non-sexual  examples  such  as  tickling  or rough housing,  role-play  with  kids  skills  for  setting boundaries on touch and teasing with people they know and care  about  even if  someone  tries to  pressure  them.Using non-sexual examples such as someone hurting their feelings  or  playing  a  scary  game,  give  kids  practice  on how to interrupt a busy adult with a safety problem and tell the whole story. Practice what to do if the adult doesn’t listen by persisting and,  if  need be, how to keep telling different adults until someone helps solve the problem.

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