We promised to share information that will help you protect your children from potential risk arising from the increase in child trafficking and related violent crimes against children. Today, we explore the realm of sexual abuse.
There is no foolproof way to guard against sexual predators and abuse but you can mitigate the risk by being actively involved in your child’s life. This will allow you to recognise changes in behaviour or other warning signs that something is off. It also creates a trusting bond that encourages children to speak out about their concerns.
So, how do you get more involved without becoming overbearing?
Show interest in their daily lives. Ask them what they did during their day and who they did it with. Who sat with them at lunchtime? What games did they play? DId they enjoy themselves?
Talk to them about the people in their lives. Get to know your child’s friends, their parents, teammates and coaches and talk to your child about all of them. Ask questions about all of them so that your child feels free to talk about them too. Just beware that it doesn’t turn into an interrogation. Keep it light and friendly.
Talk about the news. Violence and sexual abuse are frequently reported on so use this as an opportunity to start a conversation with your children. Ask them what they would do in a similar situation. Ask if they know about any similar incidents.
Check for warning signs. Make sure that you are familiar with teh signs of sexual abuse and keep a close eye on your child for changes that might signal a problem. Learn how to talk to your child about sexual abuse and ask a professional for advice if you need it.
Encouraging children to speak communicates to them that what they say matters. It gives children the confidence to confide in you when they feel concerned or vulnerable.
Teach children boundaries. They need to know that no-one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable. Similarly, they should be taught to respect other people’s bodies and not to touch anybody inappropriately.
Give them your undivided attention when they need to talk. Make sure that you are not distracted and let them know that they are being heard.
Tell them that they won’t get into trouble. Be clear about the fact that you can only help them if they tell you exactly what happened. The idea is to support them, and not to punish them for speaking up.
Remember, sexual crimes are perpetrated against people from all socioeconomic groups, races, religions and, cultures. We need to be informed to be protected.