How to Play an Active Role in Abuse Prevention
For parents, even thinking of your child being a victim of abuse is unbearable. However, it’s critically important for a parent to play an active role in abuse prevention. The following steps are ways you can help protect your child from being victimized.
Educate yourself on the red flags of child predators.
Many child abusers groom their intended victim in order to disguise the abuse and go undetected.
Grooming is defined as the process by which offenders gradually draw victims into a sexual relationship and maintain that relationship in secrecy.
Parents, guardians, and other adults can also be groomed.
Key behaviors of grooming are:
- Targeting a specific “type” of kid
- Physically and emotionally isolating the child from family and friends
- Slowly crossing accepted physical boundaries
- Encouraging children to keep secrets from parents or guardians
Think critically about who is in charge of your child.
For decades, parents trusted societal institutions like the church, summer camps, and scouting troops to take care of and protect their children. However, decades of child sexual abuse scandals in all of these industries have demonstrated that parents need to be more discerning about who is looking after their children.
Ask yourself: Will my child be alone with an unknown adult? Has the organization vetted and background-checked the adults working with my child? Is there a possibility my child will be isolated from trusted adults if they participate in this activity?
Talk with your child about boundaries.
Creating an open, supportive dialogue with your child about their personal boundaries and the boundaries other adults in their lives must respect is critical in abuse prevention.
- Remind your child that their body is their business. Unwelcome touches from adults are not acceptable.
- If your child feels uncomfortable or unsafe with an adult, emphasize that it’s not the child’s fault and it’s okay to tell you whenever it happens.
- Trust your child when they express a dislike or fear of a different adult. Children can be sheepish around new faces, but if your child is scared to go anywhere that a specific adult is, trust your instincts, and respect their wishes.
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