The following tips are excerpted from “Seven Steps to Protecting our Children”, which was published by Darkness to Light.org. Click to download a complete copy of their work.
Step 1) Learn the facts
- Understand the risks of the world we live in. Your decisions regarding children should be based on these realities and not on hopes, because abuse happens, and it can happen to someone you love.
Step 2) Minimize opportunity
- It’s hard as a caregiver to balance a child’s safety with their need for freedom and independence, but if you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations you will dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for children. Ask your schools, camps, and community groups about their policies, and be aware of the risks even with close friends and family. 90% of child victims are abused by someone they know, love, or trust.
Step 3) Talk about it
- Break down the barriers between you and your children by talking openly about abuse. Teach your children about body safety, reduce the embarrassment of talking about body parts, and let children know that you’re always there to help.
Step 4) Stay alert
- Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Be sensitive to changes in a child’s behavior and know the signs of abuse.
Step 5) Make a plan
- Teach yourself and your children where to go, who to call and how to react. Let caregivers know you and your child are educated on the subject of abuse and are prepared to act.
Step 6) Act on suspicions
- Most children are too scared or too embarrassed to ask for help. If you suspect abuse, report it. The well-being of a child could be at stake.
Step 7) Get involved
- Support those that fight child sexual abuse. There are many organizations in New Hampshire dedicated to helping children, including the Granite State Children’s Alliance and it’s network of Child Advocacy Centers. Click here to find out how you can help. Most important, spread the word about abuse and prevention with your friends.