Based on an article I read from Cynthia Bland of the group Voicefound.ca, I want to expand on their points and share with you what our children are depending on us to do – How To Stop Childhood Sexual Abuse.
As I have told you in previous articles, the statistics of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) are beyond the pale – 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 3 girls are sexually assaulted by the age of 18. As I have also written, “stranger danger is a myth”. It’s not the unknown that our children have to be leery, it’s the ones we know best; our clergy, teachers, caregivers and yes, even family members – they are the ones that are ALMOST ALWAYS guilty of stealing the innocence of our children. The statistics vary, but not by much, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90-95% of all CSA transgressions are by those we KNOW and TRUST. That’s right, the ones that molest, rape, sodomize and abuse our children are NOT strangers…they are our pastors, our 5th grade teachers, our fathers and aunts, and even sometimes they are the child down the street that plays with our kids. I recently read an article about an 8 yr. old molesting a 7 yr. old that lived just two doors down – a trusted neighborhood child.
As a survivor of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, I know all too well how this trust is built up and then destroyed. It’s called “grooming” but the bottom line, it’s how these trusted ones get inside the psyche of a child and use their authority over them to sexually and psychologically control them, as my youth minister did me. Its why the vast majority, like myself, are unable to speak out against these predators until it’s too late, until the statute of limitations has passed and they can no longer be held legally responsible. It is for this reason that we as adults are now held to a higher standard to protect our children. They cannot protect or speak out for themselves, so we have got to.
Here is what we CAN and MUST do to protect our children:
1) Learn the Facts
Stranger Danger is a myth – Learn the facts about CSA. Realities, Not Trust, Should Influence Your Decisions Regarding Children.
2) Minimize Opportunity
If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you’ll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for children.
3) Talk About It
Children Often Keep Abuse a Secret, but Barriers Can Be Broken Down by Talking Openly.
4) Stay Alert
Don’t Expect Obvious Signs When a Child is Being Sexually Abused. Signs Are Often There But You’ve Got to Spot Them. You also need to have good relationships with coaches, teachers, etc., so you can find out what they know.
5) Make a Plan
Learn Where to Go, Whom to Call, and How to React. Find the resources that will give you the tools you need to help you and your child.
6) Act on Suspicions
Pay attention to that “little voice”. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
7) Get Involved
Volunteer and financially support organizations such as “Voice Found”, “Together We Heal” and “Beyond Survivor” that work to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help those who have already suffered the trauma to heal.
It is only by working together can we help prevent CSA. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions. If you don’t learn how to protect your children, then who will?