We all want the best for our children, to protect them at all costs from every form of possible harm. It is a natural parental response rooted in love. However, it would be dangerous to ignore the possibility of certain risks to our children.
“Child sexual abuse is engaging a child or young person in any form of sexual activity either through force, coercion or enticement. The abuse could involve physical touch or non-touching activities such as exposing a child to pornography.”
We understand that caring for a child and providing all their essentials can be a full-time job. But there are ways parents ignore the signs of child sexual abuse or potential abuse in their children!
Parents need to be as present as possible with their children. When you fail to develop a healthy relationship with your child, they would be unwilling to confide in you when they feel unsafe.
Another common habit adults have towards children is not taking them seriously. Children are usually playful and may not always have a full understanding of circumstances. However, children can be very intelligent and sensitive, meaning they can sense when an adult is treating them in a harmful manner.
We must not ignore them when they raise an alarm or make a report to you concerning how a person treated them. It is unlikely that a child would lie about being touched sexually or being forced to do something against their wish.
As parents, you have to be observant. If you notice any changes in the behaviour of your child, try to find out the cause. Some of the signs of child sexual abuse are low self-esteem, depression, difficulty staying focused and inappropriate sexual behaviour. There may also be unexplained injuries on their genitals or parts of their body. Brushing these signs as ‘nothing’, could result in you failing to stop or prevent child sexual abuse from occurring.
“Ensuring your child is respectful towards an adult should never be at the expense of their safety.”
Ensuring your child is respectful towards an adult should never be at the expense of their safety. Perhaps your child cries, hesitates or refuses to have any sort of interaction with an adult. Do not force them to. A possible explanation for this is that they may feel unsafe due to something the adult may have done to them. A better response is to privately question your child to ensure they are not being sexually abused in any way.
What To Do
Here are some practical steps to take if you notice any signs in your child or they report an event to you:
- Keep calm. Do not display emotions that may frighten the child. Be supportive and believe them.
- Thank the child for making the disclosure. Reassure your child that he/she is loved, accepted and important.
- Earn the trust of your child that you and other people will do everything to keep them safe.
- Keep them away from the person suspected of the abuse. Establish a safety program.
- Never blame your child.
- Maintain the usual routines of everyday life to make them feel comfortable and at ease.
- Set gentle but firm limits whenever they ‘act out’.
- Respond to questions they may have.
- Respond to any safety requests of the child. It is important that you do not downplay their fears or emotions but take immediate, appropriate actions that make them feel safe.
- Get help.
For support or resources you can contact Cece Yara Or to help report a case of child sexual abuse contact us with our helpline- 0800- 800-8001.