It is estimated that at least two out of every ten girls and one of every ten boys are sexual abused, at present a staggering 3M in the US have suffered sexual abuse.
Many parents refuse and cannot accept it can happen in their family. Yet, parents are the only ones available to prevent this from happening.
Professionals, police and courts can never put an end to sexual abuse because they arrive at the scene too late. Further, professionals and courts have no permission to talk to a child about sex, unless of course, it’s after the fact, the child has been abused and the damage is done. More statistics
Studies have show long term damage that may include:
· Difficulty in forming long-term relationships;
· Sexual risk-taking that may lead to contracting STD’s, including AIDS;
· Physical complaints and physical symptoms;
· Depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide;
· Links to failure of the immune system, illness, and even early deaths
· Holding a secret for so long that it can fracture the entire family
Warning signs and what to look for:
Children up to age 3:
- · Fear or excessive crying
- · Vomiting
- · Feeding problems
- · Bowel problems
- · Sleep disturbances
- · Failure to thrive
- · Eating disturbances
- · Excessive masturbation
Children ages 2-9 may exhibit:
- · Fear of particular people, places or activities
- · Regression to earlier behaviors such as bed wetting or stranger anxiety
- · Victimization of others
- · Feelings of shame
- · Withdrawal from family
Children ages 10 through adolescence:
- · Nightmares
- · Poor school performance
- · Promiscuity
- · Substance abuse
- · Regression
- · Running away from home
- · Fear of attack recurring
- · Suicidal gestures
- · Pregnancy
- · Displaced anger
- · Depression
Ways to protect your child.
- Teach them what appropriate sexual behavior and when to say no if someone tries to touch their sexual parts, no matter if they know this person well, is another classmate, teacher, friend, neighbor, relative.
- Teach them to say no if anyone says or asks something of them they are uncomfortable with. Teach them that many people seem very nice and friendly, will give them toys, treats etc., so when they ask to touch their body parts, the predator will try to make them feel guilty if they say no.
- Be diligent when it comes to observing your children; how they interact around adults. Are they hesitant? Uncomfortable? Overly sexual? And of course never leave your children unsupervised or in the care of someone you don’t really know.
This website provides great information regarding prevention.
Research has shown that the following protective factors are linked to a lower incidence in child abuse.
· Strong nurturing and attachment from birth. A child’s relationship with a consistent caring adult is associated with better academic grades, healthier behaviors, positive peer experiences and stronger coping mechanisms. Also, children with loving parents trust their views on guidance and protection. Meaning, there is a much stronger possibility they will come to you if something is amiss.
· Parental knowledge of raising children. Further research shown links healthy child development to effective parenting. Children thrive when parents provide affection, respectful communication and listening, consistent rules and expectations and safe opportunities that promote independence. This can lead to the child’s success in school, encourage curiosity and motivate them to achieve.
· Being a good example by showing resilience and the ability to cope with life’s stresses. Your strength allows the child to feel safe.
· Have a large social network in your community and with your school. Tests have shown that children who grow up in a more isolated environment are more prone to abuse.
· Parental support. Families that can meet their own basic needs, food, shelter, clothing, transportation, as well as mental health care are better equipped to ensure their children’s safety and feelings of security.
State by state hotlist: http://1.usa.gov/wcjkPy