With the ever growing flow of information, we are more aware of the amount of cases of sexual abuse and aggressions children suffer. That is why is necessary to focus on prevention from this type of abuse, and to empower them so they can stay away from predators.
Statistics indicates that one in every 10 children in the USA will be victim of abuse before 18 years of age. We must do everything we can to prevent it.
It is known fact that predators can smells people struggling in other areas of their live that are vulnerable. People close to the family can be the aggressors. They prey on the trust the family has on them. In some cases is even worst, the abuses can come from a family member.
There are certain measures we can take to protect and provide our children with tools to act before this situation:
- Teach them that feelings matter and that must be respected. Validate the feelings the child shares, it will give him a sense of self, and it will help him recognize his own emotions. By doing so, a child can notice when something is not right, this makes it hard to be manipulated. Sensitive children towards what is right or wrong are capable of telling it to an adult they trust, thus giving them an advantage against the predator.
- Teach them they are the owners of their bodies. Children and teenagers must know nobody can touch, see or talk about their private parts in inappropriate situations. This lesson can be taught from the moment they are learning how to go to the bathroom. It is important to tell them, with age-appropriate language, no one can touch them and. In the case it happens, they must tell their parents right away. This type of conversation must be done over time and according to the child’s age, detailing the situations more and more, and reassuring no one can make them feel uncomfortable, even if there is someone close to the family. Children must understand you will believe them.
- They must understand the difference between secrets and surprises. They need to understand they must never keep secrets about the private parts. The term ‘secret’ can be confusing for children when it comes to surprises (they may think of a party or a gift, for example.) You must insist in establishing a difference because, at the end of the day, you can find out about a surprise, but a secret is something that cannot be told otherwise it could harm us. If children understand this difference, predator will not be able to make children keep the secret.
- Share your own experiences dealing with so many emotions and feelings as much as you can. They reach to close relatives for wisdom and to understand what they are going through. Sharing your experiences helps children learn how to express emotions and name what they do not comprehend. For example: “I was so frustrated this morning because I left home late. I walked with butterflies in my stomach the whole time.” When you relate emotions with words and share them with children, they learn to express their own feelings like anger, confusion, happiness and sadness, and to be empathic with others.
- Ask permission to children to touch them. By doing so, you give them a sense of control over their bodies. If they find a predator, they will know the difference and will be able to identify shady people, especially because predators do not ask for permission.
- Give them the power to say No and to be frank. Promote emotional honesty and show them physical boundaries, it gives them control over their body. Nevertheless, they may not be able to say no to a predator or to stop the abuse, whether is because of fear or the abuser is too strong. If this was the case, the important thing is to make them understand they must not reaming silent and tell everything that happened. They must be certain you will believe them and that they will not be into trouble or someone else will get into trouble for what it happened.
The responsibility falls on the father, mother, or person in charge of the minor to manage to make them share the abuse they went through, and to reassure them they will have all the help they need. Is most cases, children do not tell what happened, that is why is important to encourage them to stay away from any traumatic situation because they may not be able to handle the emotional weight this creates. Prevention is important because:
- Give the necessary tools to protect children
- Help them stay safe
- Offer support in case they face a traumatic situation they cannot handle on their own.