The position of a parent is a tricky one. They are responsible for moulding an entire life with their actions. In the context of child sex abuse, these actions become all the more critical. Parents should be aware of ways to prevent child abuse and how they have to protect kids from sexual predators. Through awareness, education and proactive parenting, parents can provide tools to their children for defense against abusers.
Give importance to the child’s feelings
Immediately intervene if your child is uncomfortable doing something that an adult has asked him or her to do. Even if it’s just a hug, which may look harmless, but your child’s hesitation speaks volumes about it.Let them show affection on their own. Meanwhile, parents should express their love to their kids and let them know that you will protect them whenever they feel uncomfortable.
Not everyone should be ‘obeyed’
When you teach your child to “obey adults”, they think every adult has the authority to tell them what to do and what not. This makes the child vulnerable, particularly if he or she is a tween. You need to help them understand the difference between listening to adults with good authority, and adults that are only trying to manipulate them. You also need to ensure that you draw the line with adults that interact with your child - not everyone should be bossing your kids around!
Discuss and communicate with the child
Children should be taught about child abuse from the beginning. The lessons should be taught according to their age group, but the underlying issue should be clear. Children under the age of six should know about certain body parts that should not be touched by anyone. Similarly, as they grow up, they should be taught about child molesters and their safety; and while they are in their teenage, sex education should be given to them.
Do not push children away if they complain of anyone doing “bad things” to them. Listen to them carefully and respond with careful words. Don’t show your anger or fear in front of the child, as they need your support and protection at that time. Similarly, if your teenager reports of sexual assault or rape, take it seriously and report to the police immediately.
Know where your child spends their time
A playground, a group activity class or a basketball court – doesn't matter where your kids are, you should always stay aware of their whereabouts and their company. Get to know the adults who show up at those places, and keep an open eye for those who take more interest in the children around. Keep an eye on that particular adult and inform the community service or local police.
Partner with school management
Keep in touch with the school to stay in the know about your children’s progress and any issues they might have. Find out from the school management about their child abuse prevention policy and practices. Parents can also volunteer to improve or establish such a program in their kid's school if it isn’t available already.
Source: Virtus Online, A Program and Service of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc.