Sexual Abuse Issue: How Parents Can Help Prevent Their Child Being Victimized

Tips to help parents in preventing child sexual abuse from ever being a reality.

One of my worst nightmares involves one of my children being abducted with me watching by someone I know to be a child molester. In my waking moments, the idea of my children being sexually abused also occupies my thoughts.

No parent can be on guard of his or her child every second of every day. Nor can the child be isolated from friends, school, neighbors, bus drivers or life in general. A child can be taught what do and how to handle certain situations as well as ways to avoid possible trouble. The child can be taught and it is the parent's responsibility to ensure that it gets done.

Child sexual abuse happens to children of all ages. Reports of infants as young as six months being raped to ten year old girls giving birth to their father's babies are sadly not uncommon. For a parent to ensure their child has been properly educated, discussions on the subject should be started as early as twelve to eighteen months. These youngsters are like sponges at this age so teach them the proper names of their body parts.

When a child is about three years old, he or she can be taught about the private parts of the body as well as the right to say "no" to unwanted touch. A child who is constantly forced to kiss, hug or sit on the lap of someone they dislike often loses the feeling that his or her body is theirs. Often children will feel that if they must kiss or hug a person, they must also have to do other things as well. If a child asks questions about sex, give them straightforward answers. Don't wrap them up in ambiguity or ignore the question because you decide it is too embarrassing to discuss.

By starting an open line of communication with your child at this age, you increase the chances of your child coming to you as problems come up later on. Besides this, incest and child abuse thrives on secrecy and fear. By a parent bringing the subject out into the open beforehand, the abuser has often lost his or her advantage against the child.

As your child gets older and starts going to other children's homes and perhaps staying the night, it is time to discuss safety away from home. Your child should be well aware of the difference between good touch and bad touch. You should always ask about your child's outing and encourage him or her to discuss any possibly scary experiences.

By twelve years old, boys and girls are often starting to pay attention to each other. Puberty has begun and the body changes that go along with it have begun. Children this age often feel they are immune to so many of the rules and regulations up to this point. They want to go "hang out" with their buddies or riding their bikes while being out of a parent's actual sight. It is at this time personal safety and sexual conduct should be discussed. Many parents will shudder at the idea of their child even thinking about sexual conduct. Sit down and actually discuss sexual abuse and what it entails. Many children, if they think about it, believe old men forcing intercourse is all that sexual abuse is about. Make them aware of the facts even if you have to leave a pamphlet from their pediatrician's office out to be read. Be sure they are aware the dangers of "strangers" on the Internet.

Past the age of twelve a child must be made aware of "date rapes", sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies. As hard as it is to imagine, some girls will believe if they didn't actually fall asleep with the boy, they couldn't possibly be pregnant. At this time it is imperative that the lines of communication between the child and parent be open and uninhibited. If your child seems to want to discuss a matter but is having a rough time talking about it, be understanding and make sure he or she knows you are interested.

At all ages a parent should know where and with whom a child is spending time with. Also make sure your child is spending time with those of an equal age. Avoid letting him or her spend periods of time in out of the way places with much older children or other adults.

A school's curriculum should include abuse prevention programs for both children and teachers. If the school does have a program and your child attends it, this will be an opportune time to discuss sexual abuse. If you were abused as a child, tell your son or daughter the details you are comfortable about sharing. By knowing you went through it, a child who is abused is much more likely to bring the subject up if it happens to them.

One of the most important things to remember is to give your child enough of your time so he or she won't be needy for it from some other adult. The lonely child who is not listened to at home makes a perfect target for almost any pedophile.

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