can I do to protect my child?
Recognize that abuse exists
In 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the perpetrator
is someone the child knows and trusts. It may be a family member
or close friend. Often, this person will work to gain the trust
of the family first, and then the child. Sometimes a child
will say, “I don’t like it when Uncle John kisses
me” or “I think Mr. Wilson is kind of creepy.” Respect
your child’s feelings. Don’t force a child to kiss
a relative or friend, or go with an adult he or she feels uncomfortable
Talk about abuse
If you talk about the possibility of abuse with your children
and other parents, you can share information and help prevent
abuse by being vigilant about actions that may indicate that
someone is an abuser.
Teach boundaries and safety
Teach your child about safety. Help children learn about
privacy and teach your child that adults must respect his or
her limits when it comes to physical touching. Practice this
behavior yourself by respecting your child’s “no” when
it comes to tickling or hugging. If your child doesn’t
want to kiss Uncle John, let him or her shake hands instead.
Develop a safety plan
Talk about whom your child can go to if he or she does not
feel safe, and whom to talk to if something happens that he
or she needs to talk about. If your child walks to school,
identify houses or places where your child can go to call you
if he or she feels unsafe. You may want to develop a safety
plan that includes other families in your neighborhood, so
that you can all help each other to keep your children safe.
Signs that someone may be an abuser
Someone you know may be someone who has a problem. Sometimes
this person may say or do things that worry or confuse you.
If someone you know behaves in a way that bothers you, talk
to them about it. You may be able to help them to get the help
they need. Child sexual abuse happens in an atmosphere of silence
and secrecy. Abusers count on us to keep silent. Only by breaking
that silence can we end child sexual abuse.
Behaviors that may indicate a problem:
- Prefers the company of children to that of adults
- Doesn’t respect children’s limits—hugs,
kisses, tickles, etc even when child does not want it
- Buys children expensive gifts
- Doesn’t respect a child’s privacy
- Regularly offers to babysit for free, or takes children
on overnight outings alone.
- Asks children to keep secrets
- Talks about children in a sexual way
- Talks about sexual fantasies involving children
- Looks at child pornography
- Has a “special” child friend