Ten percent of children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. As a parent, this statistic can be very scary, and it should be. Studies show that children who have been sexually abused are more likely to experience rape, develop drug and alcohol problems or suffer from mental health issues, such as low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness or suicidal thoughts.
As a parent, you have a big responsibility in preventing your child from being a victim of sexual abuse. There are steps you can take in order to decrease the possibility of childhood sexual abuse.
First, understand that strangers often do not cause childhood sexual abuse. Ninety percent of victims know their abuser. In these cases, the abusers can be people like family members, friends, teachers, coaches or babysitters.
Second, decrease isolated, one-on-one meetings between your child and other people. More than 80 percent of childhood sexual abuse cases happen in these types of situations. Try to schedule group activities, or make sure that one-on-one meetings occur in areas that can be observed by adults. Stop by unannounced when your child is alone with another person. And always ask the adult what your child will be doing with them before the meeting/activities occur.
After a meeting between your child and another person, ask your child what went on. Notice if he or she is hesitant to talk about what happened, or if the child does not want to hang out with that person anymore. Be aware if your child suddenly becomes depressed, angry, withdrawn or rebellious.
Lastly, you need to talk with your child about sexual abuse. Explain to them what it is, that it is never okay, and to speak to a trusted adult if it occurs.
Childhood sexual abuse is probably one of your worst nightmares as a parent, but you can work to make it less likely for your child. If your child comes to you to report an incident of sexual abuse, remain calm, listen to your child and report the incident to authorities.
If you are looking for information about how to prevent childhood sexual abuse, attend our free and fun child and caregiver workshop: Super Hero Safety Camp on Sunday, Aug. 6 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Click here to learn more and you can go to this site to register.