On a daily basis, there are reports of children being sexually abused by adults, some survived this abuse and others were left with scars, while some have lost their lives.
With the increased rate of sexual abuse on children, it is time to talk about things that parents can do to reduce the risk of their children being abused.
Unfortunately, any child is at risk of sexual abuse. Hoping, denying and pretending that this can’t happen to your child, are not lowering your child’s risk of being sexually abused and it does not help in any way. The thought of your child being molested sexually is quite terrifying, but it’s something that every parent needs to face because knowledge is power.
Your child should know that he/she has the right to speak up if they are uncomfortable, or if someone is touching them inappropriately. Let your child know it’s okay to say ‘NO’ even to adults they know and family members. Most people have one or two family members living with them, don’t say I trust my brother or sister 100 percent nothing of such can happen, one cannot be too sure. So, make out time to monitor their day to day activities and try to come home earlier than expected once in a while.
Work with older children to set guidelines for who they can talk to online, and what information can be shared. Also monitor what they are exposed to on television and this is very important. Let them know it is not all programmes on television they can watch, especially when you are not around.
Educate yourself about the warning signs of childhood sexual abuse, know what to look for and the best way to respond. Talking about sexuality with your child should not be something you talk about once and that’s it, it should be a routine conversation, because the more you repeat it, the more your child is reminded.
Talk often with your child and set a tone of openness. Talking openly and directly with your child teaches the child that it’s okay to talk to you when they have questions. If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, make time to listen and talk to them, don’t cut your child short by saying you talk too much, it kills their spirit. When next your child wants to talk to you, he or she might end up editing the better part of the story in other not to be cut short by you.
Teach your child key safety principles. Teach children the names of their body parts, so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts. Let them know some parts of their body are private, and other people cannot be touching or looking at it, unless they need to touch them to provide medical care. Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to them in ways that make them uncomfortable, it shouldn’t stay a secret or if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.