Are You Protecting Your Child From Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is a topic discussed in whispers and one of “those things” that people want to believe only happens in someone else's family. But as the general public becomes more educated about the subject, more people are waking up to the fact that it can happen to their child, to their niece or nephew, to the innocent child next door.

And, as people become more educated, they are becoming more proactive about protecting their own children from sexual predators. The Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun published an excellent article about how to protect your child from sexual abuse. Here is an excerpt from the Protecting your child from sexual abuse article written by By Dr. Gregory Ramey.

… Abusers are overwhelmingly (at least 90 percent of the time) known to their victims. Thirty-six percent of the time the sexual offender is another child. This leaves parents in a serious quandary. It’s easy to tell kids to stay away from strangers. How do you warn them about their own siblings, cousins, uncles or friends?

Sexual abuse typically occurs in an environment of secrecy and emotional manipulation. Parents can help protect their children by making sure that they are knowledgeable and emotionally strong to deal with such issues. This means engaging children early and often in uncomfortable conversations.

1. Early. When the sexual offender is 12 years of age or younger, they are most likely (57 percent of the time) to select children under six years old. Teen offenders (between 12 and 17) prefer children 11 to 14 years of age 43 percent of the time.

This means that discussions about privacy should begin when your child is a toddler, and it starts with giving them the correct vocabulary to identify their own body parts. I don’t understand parents’ insistence on making up confusing words (“privates,” etc.) to describe sexual organs. Use naturally occurring events such as bath time, visits to the doctors, etc. to educate your kids about privacy and the importance of speaking with us whenever they encounter an uncomfortable situation.

2. Often. Engaging your kids in a discussion of privacy, sexuality and emotional coercion should be a regular event. Tell your children that sexual offenses are rarely committed by strangers. Get ready to answer lots of tough questions.

3. Uncomfortable conversations. I’ve treated hundreds of sexual abuse victims in my practice, most of whom knew that the sexual acts were wrong but felt fearful about telling someone. The solution is to create an environment where kids feel safe talking with you about tough issues.

Psychologists call this process “desensitization.” The repeated exposure or discussion of some uncomfortable topic in a safe environment makes that conversation less anxiety provoking. Readers of this column know that I’m a big fan of mealtimes as the venue for discussing real-life issues. Use examples from school, work, family or media events to engage your kids in real conversations.

When kids are courageous enough to talk about matters of substance, make sure they get your understanding rather than a lecture. Don’t act as if you have to solve all your kids’ problems. Often all they need is your warm presence and support.

Dr. Ramey is a child psychologist and vice president of outpatient services at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton.

Find the original article here.

 

 

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