Sexual Abuse: Is Your Child or Grandchild at Risk?

A Wake-Up Call

Once you become a parent, you never stop worrying about your child. It goes along with the job. Accept this fact; it's never going to change. But you can make it easier. You will keep your family safer!

Over the past 48 hours, Huffington Post users have read about sexual abuse of an infant and sexual assault of a college student. Both are virtually inconceivable and unpalatable.

Surprising? No! Acceptable? No! Actionable, Yes!

We live in unprecedented times. There are lots of good things happening.

Unfortunately, our world also has much to make us fearful and even more that's downright dangerous. Can we really make a difference? You bet we can!

If you're a baby boomer, now might be a great time for a Family Communications Tune-Up.

If you never communicated as well as you wished, that's fine too, call it an overhaul!

We get so caught up in the daily grind of living that sometimes we overlook small but vital things.

Baby boomers have the benefit of having lived a little longer and the maturity to take a step back and reevaluate.

Have we become so engrossed in the daily grind of working, taking care of children grand-kids or parents that we've overlooked the one important characteristic we all share in common? We're family.

If we were great communicators in the past, that's wonderful, if we were a bit remiss, it's never too late. However communicating is organic. It doesn't just cease at a given age or point in time.

Communication is perhaps the least expensive, most effective tool we possess to ensure the emotional and physical well being of those we love most.

Sometimes, we have to hear or read about a travesty to remind us just how important our family is. A negative event can be a catalyst for positive change!

If you shuddered when you read about the alleged abuses, you are halfway home. You're aware. Now mobilize that new-found consciousness into affirmative action.

Many older Boomers grew up in an age where authority was taken for granted. Schools were safe havens. While we attended, our parents were relatively worry-free and could get on with their daily activities. They rarely questioned authority. The church was sacrosanct. Hindsight informs us. Action empowers us!

We've learned a lot through throughout the years.

These articles on sexual abuse are a potent reminder.

So, what to do now?

Schedule a family meeting, make a telephone call, visit, send an email or text... whatever the method, communicate with those whose care is directly or indirectly in your charge. It's never too late! It's rarely an inopportune moment.

If you've got grandkids in private nursery care, talk to your children about closer monitoring. Have them or help them cover every base possible to ensure your grandchild is in a safe environment.

If your children are in elementary or middle school, become more involved. Make surprise visits to the school. Look for changes in your child's behavior that may signify potential danger alerts. If it's your grandchild, talk to your child. Help them to keep on top of things. Make suggestions, offer support.

Remember; younger children may not know what or how to communicate, or may be too scared. They may sense something's amiss, but not understand its implications.

College aged students may be scared, intimidated or ashamed. They may feel you'll blame them for perceived indiscriminate behavior, whether valid or not. Refrain from being judgmental. You might think you have a totally open relationship... it's rarely 100%... no matter how positive you are.

Talk to your child. More important listen to what's being said... and read between the lines to hear what's not being said!

As a life coach, I've met time and again with parents who believe they are "totally in touch" with their child. Often, the more positive they are, the further off base are their beliefs.

I've coached college students who suffer from peer pressure, self despair, loneliness, free floating anxiety and a host of symptoms of which their parent's are totally unaware.

When the emotions are so strong, I'll recommend a psychologist or psychiatrist better equipped to help them through a rough period. Once symptoms are alleviated, I can step back in as a coach and help students pursue and achieve their goals.

The bottom line is this. It's the reason I wrote this article:

Awareness leads to prevention. Communication with family members strengthens bonds and supports integrated action to keep all family members both physically and mentally safe.

Don't let this opportunity slip by.

Set a goal for the coming week. Check in with those whom you care about most. Don't just accept the word "fine," when you ask how things are going. Become a master at subtle yet not too intrusive probing. It's your right and responsibility. Though it may cause short term tension, it will cause long term trust.

Many young people balk at "interference," but deep down appreciate the care and concern.

Things have a way of falling through the cracks. Don't wait. Take action now!