I wish I did not ever have to post messages which include this content. But I must.
Childhood is sacred time. Adults are called as their guardians.
But there are too many evil forces outside and, unfortunately inside our homes that violate and destroy children’s souls of all ages. Some children grow up but never recover from this! Too many take their own lives. I am talking about prevention of child sexual abuse.
I want to share and emphasize bullet points from a VIRTUS training I was involved in recently on becoming more aware of how to protect our children from sexual predators and/or sex trafficking. I wish it were mandatory all parents attend and learn about this critical subject at this time.
This is so very important. Please review often…
One out of every five adult women and one out of ten adult men say they were molested as children. This means there is an estimated 40 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the United States. (Quote from VIRTUS Handbook)
- Most sexual predators are not strangers to the child or family. They often are overly friendly working to gain trust before they prey on the child. They often are patient, secretive, and crafty and “lull the family into complacency” so parents do not believe the child if they tell. Most children do not tell when something happens because they are afraid they will get in trouble.
- Most predators are fun, kind, funny, become child or family buddies, use “child-talk,” and can be women, men, fathers, mothers, teachers, clergy, coaches, tutors, and so on…and internet pretenders.
- Predators do not believe rules apply to them and often appeal to children by being cool; sometimes showing dirty pictures or inappropriate language but not always.
- Predators often begin with excessive touch, tickling, physical teasing to see how far the child will allow them “to go” in public.
- Predators will seek places to be alone with children and will make excuses that seem “right” to the child to get them to follow or obey.
- They often give gifts, excessive praise, or bribes to children to win their affection.
- They will prey on the child’s innocence and limited maturity in emotional intelligence to turn events that destroy the child’s soul, to be the child’s fault and they will be punished if they tell. Or they threaten the child to fear if they tell.
- One predator can prey on hundreds of children. One predator interviewed in a film shown during the training was a predator for 26 years before convicted. He was married and a father of four children. He preyed on over 500 children and began when he was a teenager.
PREVENTION: Talk to your child over and over about how special they are and to keep their bodies protected so conversations are not awkward. Teach them in these conversations that they can trust you and you will do everything to try to make them feel safe!
- Be aware of warning signs. As parents we need to be vigilant watchers! We often can prevent things from happening by being proactive in making sure our children are never alone with one other adult, no matter how “nice” that adult is. If you feel uneasy there is usually a reason. Teach your children to stay in public places, be with other people at all times, and to understand appropriate touch. Do not dismiss your child if they tell you something. Many adults say, “Oh that is not true…” LISTEN to them! Who else will besides you?
- Technology: We all know this. But do we act on protecting our children with the dangers of electronic access and exposure. Even posting pictures or personal information is dangerous. Be careful of what your children see on buses, or friends houses not monitored by you.
- Monitor Progress: What is your school, your after-school activities, sleep-overs, camp outs, family or friend visitors about keeping children safe. What are their procedures. You deserve to know. Be aware constantly. Teach your children they can talk to you about anything; especially if they feel afraid at any time. Create a code word. Ours was “pizza.” Don’t be complacent.
- Be aware of child/youth behaviors that seem odd or drastic. Watch or listen to what children are telling you. A very small percent of children lie about abuse. Often they don’t tell because they are afraid they won’t be listened to or believed. They are in silent pain and are confused by what has happened.
- Communicate your concerns. Tell your school principal if you have concerns about a teacher, aide or coach. Talk to a pastor or priest if you suspect something. You can insist to know about who has background checks on people who work specifically with your child. Many volunteers do not or are not held accountable and parents trust their children will be safe. But we should not put that responsibility on our children when they are too trusting to know the difference.
- If you need to talk with someone or suspect abuse call your state abuse hotline.
- If your child is in danger call 911.
It is up to us as parents to keep our precious children safe. They are our privilege. They are depending on us to help them grow up safely and thrive.
Here is a website for more tips and information: firstname.lastname@example.org