According to child protective service agencies, an astronomical 702,000 children were substantiated victims of child abuse or neglect in 2014. This unprecedented amount has experts agreeing that child abuse is a significant public health concern.
Child abuse consists of any act that endangers or impairs a child’s physical or emotional health and development. Child abuse includes any damage done to a child which cannot be reasonably explained and which is often represented by an injury or series of injuries appearing to be non-accidental in nature.
Child Abuse is a silent epidemic that thrives in secrecy. It can be prevented by talking about it and understanding that it is not a “social problem”, but a crime that causes extensive physical, developmental, and mental health problems in its young victims.
The thought of our children being harmed is every parent’s worst nightmare. We try to do everything we can to protect our children and keep them safe, but there is still a constant worry about what happens when they are out of sight. We’ve come up with some tips for child abuse prevention, and ideas for how to talk to your child if you believe abuse may have occurred.
How to Reinforce Personal Safety at Home
- Always be approachable, let kids know they can always come to you with problems or questions
- List trusted adults they can talk to
- Use appropriate correct name for body parts
- Have touching rules in your family
- Watch videos or read books about personal safety
- Role play “ what if “ situations
- Let them know that it is ok to say no to an adult who wants to touch their private parts
- Let them know they have a right in who touches them
When Talking With Your Child
- Be/stay calm and confident
- Be careful not to scare your child; your tone should be neutral
- Reassure your child know that you are always there for him/her and always want to protect him/her
- Allow time for your child to process and to ask YOU questions
- Have your child identify 3 safe people they can talk to if someone ever makes them uncomfortable
- Take the time to make talking to your child about personal safety an ongoing dialogue
- Be sure not to interrogate/interview your child. Instead, ask simple, open-ended questions in a calm and neutral manner: “Has anyone ever made you feel uncomfortable or scared? Has anyone ever asked you to keep a secret?”
Be Observant, Ask Your Child Questions
- Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior. If your child is hesitant to go certain places or to be around certain people, ASK!
- Pay attention to their behavior/attitude before and after spending time with an adult
- Believe the child if they disclose something troubling to you
- Comfort him/her that he/she has done the right thing in telling you and that what happened is absolutely not their fault