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Breaking it Down: Simple Steps to PREVENT Child Sexual Abuse

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

by Lois Beekman Oliveira & Elissa J. Brown

Child sexual abuse is a serious public health problem in the United States, affecting as many as 1 in 10 children. Research shows that there are ways adults can prevent sexual abuse, but these studies are rarely accessed by those who need it the most, parents and other caregivers who take care of children. Even when the information is available, caregivers’ discomfort with the topic of child sexual abuse might stop them from trying the recommended steps. As a result, we at Child HELP Partnership have translated this research to simple steps all adults can take to PREVENT child sexual abuse. In PREVENT, we outline steps to both protect children and overcome any understandable discomfort.

PREVENT:

Policy investigation

  • Know the policies your child’s school has in place for hiring staff.
  • Do they conduct background checks on all employees at the school?

Risk assessment

  • You can reduce potential risks, especially in today’s cyber-driven society, by making sure your child’s computer, TV, and other electronic devices are available only in rooms where you can observe your child’s technology
  • Check your child’s use of these devices at irregular times and look for contact with unknown others/adults

Eliminate opportunity

  • You can eliminate the opportunity for predators in your community by advocating this issue be a top priority at your child’s school.
  • The more informed a community is, the less likely this will occur.

Validate yourself

  • If you have unsettled feelings or something just doesn’t seem right, follow your instincts
  • Go to your child’s school and demand answers to the questions or concerns you have

Encourage your child

  • Make sure your child knows that he/she can always come to you if they ever feel uncomfortable with anyone
  • Encourage them to take control of their own bodies by giving them the choice to decide who they want to give hugs/kisses to. Oftentimes children are simply told to give a relative or family friend a hug or kiss even if they are not comfortable doing so.

No child alone

  • Remember that a child should never be alone in a room with an adult
  • Make sure you can always observe what is going on in a room that your child is in at school whether it is through windows or the classroom door kept ajar.

Talk to your child

  • Challenge your own discomfort about having a conversation about private parts and sexual abuse with your child, knowing that this will open up a dialogue with your child

This will show your child that you are the source of accurate information and they will feel more comfortable talking to you about these topics

If you want to learn more about protecting children from abuse and injury, please consider attending a Keeping Every Youth Safe training.

Contact us at 718-990-2367 for more information.