As difficult as it is to accept, children are more exposed to sexual abuse, especially by those who are the closest to them.
More often than not, abuse usually doesn't stem from strangers, except in cases of rape or kidnapping. Unfortunately, as parents, we must face the possibility that our children may face the situation of sexual abuse.
Society has helped us to focus on sexual abuse by adults, and we often forget that a child may be sexually abused by another child, who may be older, or even sometimes, not older.
By virtue of the fact that children are a vulnerable lot, they can be easily manipulated into falling into the trap of an older child, or adult.
That is why the use of physical force is not often necessary to get a child to be involved in sexual activity because children are trusting and dependent. They usually want to please others, gain their love and approval. And oftentimes, we have taught them not to question authority and they believe that adults are always right. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse know this and take advantage of these vulnerabilities in children.
Sexual abuse occurs when an older or more knowledgeable child or an adult uses a child for sexual pleasure. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time. It can oftentimes involve forcing, tricking, threatening, bribing or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or activity.
Because most children cannot or will not talk about being sexually abused, it is up to concerned adults to recognize signs of abuse, which may include:
• Unusually quiet, moody or withdrawn
• Loss of appetite or refusal to eat
• Uncharacteristic fear of certain places or people
• Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors or talk
• Seems to be hiding a certain secret
• Nightmare or Sleeping Problems
This list is not exhaustive, it takes vigilance to detect when something is not right.
As parents, the key to keeping our children safe from sexual abuse lies in our hands.
HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE?
• Develop a Family Safety Plan, which will detail things like who to trust your child with, whether your child is allowed to visit the home of another family, and to have a sleep over, and if they do, whether the other parent shares your views about safety as well
• Be aware of who is paying attention to your children and who their friends are.
• Don't ignore any unease you feel about people showing interest in your child
• Teaching your child about what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior from one child to the other, or between a child and an adult. Let them know that they don't have to be bullied into doing whatever they do not want to do, or feel bad if they say No to inappropriate behavior
• Keep the lines of communication open so your kids know they can ask you any questions, or talk about anything.
If you believe that your child, or any other child may be in danger of sexual abuse, please take action, either by physically separating your child from the other party, or if it's not your child, seeking help from a professional, that can intervene in such cases.
Our Kids are Our Treasures, let's be vigilant with them.
Fellow Concerned Parent,