We recently had some training at work regarding protecting against, spotting and reporting sexual abuse. I thought it was very good and pertinent information to pass on in this day and time. We certainly cannot walk around suspecting everyone and every situation but we do need to be educated and know what to look for.
Current statistics are:
1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18
1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18
Information is from Darkness to Light and their website has so many helpful resources on it! So check it out! www.darkness2light.org. There are suggestions for reporting any suspicions on the website.
Here are some practical ways to protect our kids and protect ourselves as we interact with kids:
Reduce the number of one-adult/one-child situations
Have multiple adults supervise
Monitor Internet use
Evaluate adults that are close with the family
Adult interaction with children should be in public places
Require background checks or screenings for adults/organizations kids are involved in
Drop in unexpectedly
Ask specifics about outings if your child is going with an adult
Talk with child after being with an adult and notice mood and behavior
Be direct; talk to other adults about being aware of abuse
Teach kids it's not good to keep secrets with adults; teach proper boundaries and about private parts
If a child starts to share, don't freak out! Listen quietly and calmly so they don't shut down.
Some common signs of abuse (Obviously any of these alone does not necessarily mean there is a problem. When several of these are present, use common sense to look into it further):
Sudden and extreme changes in behavior
UTIs, infections and STDs
Not wanting to go to school when they used to enjoy it
Depressed/hurting their self
Sexual experimenting/sexual language (that is beyond their developmental level)
Use of drugs/alcohol
With this information we can be better stewards and protectors of the children in our lives.