I attended a training last night that has changed me.
If I told you that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys would get hit by a car before their 18th birthday, would you be surprised? Would you take action to make sure your child weren't part of those statistics?The truth is, that statistic is related to child sexual abuse. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. We like to think that our society doesn't allow this but it is frequent enough in our culture to suggest that it is being passively accepted.
The training taught me that child sexual abuse prevention and response are an adults job. Our kids need us. We can empower them with awareness and choice but the real responsibility for protecting kids must be shouldered by adults. Child sexual abuse thrives in an environment of denial and fear. To become conscious of child sexual abuse means to know what it is, to acknowledge its prevalence, to understand how it occurs, and to take steps to actively protect our kids. When you become conscious, you break the pattern of denial that allows child sexual abuse to take place. We dont have to live in fear but we have to live with our eyes open, talk to our kids, and be active. We, as parents, make a choice to be fearless and active or to passively hope that it doesn't happen to our child.
What might be most shocking is that more than 90% of children who are sexually abused know their abusers. This means, fewer than 10% are strangers. You may have taught your child not to talk to strangers but that wont even be relevant when someone they know and trust tries to take advantage of them. As many as 60% of sexually abused kids are victims of someone the family trusts. Abusers often try to form a trusting relationship with parents. They often go out of their way to appear trustworthy so that they can gain access to children.
You can take this training yourself at www.darkness2light.org or at the Family Resource Center in Mesa on December 1st. I highly recommend it to everyone that loves and wants to protect a child.
If you already know right now that you aren't going to educate yourself on this, at the very least eliminate one-adult/one-child situations and you'll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse. Does your child go to private music lessons, does your child stay after school for help, does your child spend time at a neighbors house without you present? Think carefully about the safety of situations in which older kids have access to your younger children. Drop in unexpectedly to convey the message that there are no entirely private times where you are not looking after your child.
Whatever you do friends, dont ignore or deny the prevalence of child sexual abuse. It can happen to your child. But you can dramatically reduce the risk by being informed, conscious, fearless and proactive.
Mom, aunt, neighbor, cousin, social worker, Primary counselor