With the Penn State tragedy and recent news out of Syracuse this past week, most parents have thought of, and/or worried about sexual abuse more than once this month. The wretched reality is, we will keep getting reminded about sexual abuse in children because it is so common. Thankfully, we can help our children define, get words for, protect against, and support them in their understanding about how to prevent sexual abuse. You can start this today.
If you’re worried or unsure how to proceed at any moment, it’s always okay to visit the pediatrician or clinician your child sees for support, help, and a check-up.
Open up channels of communication about preventing sexual abuse as early as age 3. Start by defining “good touch” from “bad touch.” Use anatomic terms (vagina or penis) and answer questions your children have. Return to these conversations occassionally, every few months, every single year. Always trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Explore and ask questions if your child expresses concern, confusion, or fear.
Preventing Sexual Abuse
- Trust your child. Children rarely will lie about sexual abuse.
- A great overview on preventing sexual abuse including possible signs of sexual abuse (at the end)
- A hand-out defining sexual abuse, some statistics, and characteristics of abusers composed by perpetrators of child sexual abuse while in recovery. A note on this–I found this upsetting to read but did gain insight from it.
- HHS information about programs and curriculum for children (and adults) on preventing sexual abuse