As parents, we play an important role in our children’s lives. It is our responsibility to protect, communicate, and educate them about what is going on in our society. It is imperative for them to be aware of their surroundings and the company they keep. Your son’s or daughter’s acquaintances can have a major influence on them. There have been countless cases on the news about sexual abuse, we have read about it in the papers, and I have seen firsthand the effect that it has on our loved ones.
In spite of all this, sexual abuse has remained one of the most unspoken topics among families in our society. There are churches and other organizations that have failed to report an abuser in order to save their reputation or avoid prosecution.
This does not make the problem go away, and even when trusted institutions fail our children, we cannot fail them. It can be an uncomfortable subject to discuss with our innocent young children, however, in the end, keeping them informed can be very beneficial.
At the same time, it is also important for parents to know how to properly respond to any instances of sexual abuse they may become aware of. There have been cases where family members have taken matters into their own hands. Many people still recall the chilling news story about the Texas father who beat and killed a man he found sexually abusing his five year old daughter.
How can we identify signs of an abuse?
Even though many abuses have gone unnoticed or heard of, there are still some signs that can help us detect a victim of sexual abuse:
- A victim may display a sudden change in their personality that sometimes affects their academic performance.
- The victim suddenly has a preference for being alone and tends to isolate themselves from friends and family.
- They may refuse to stay in the care of a particular person or a family member and exhibit signs of fear. They may feel uncomfortable around a certain person.
We should always have an open ear to what is said to others about the person your child spends most of his or her time with, whether it’s coming from a child or another adult. That may be the only hint to uncovering and stopping a case of abuse. We should engage more in our children’s lives and show an interest in the choices they make. Our presence can make a significant difference in their lives.
Statistically, most abusers are not strangers waiting in the dark alley. They are more likely to be the people we trust or children with. There is nothing wrong with trusting your child with a loved one, but make sure to have confidence in that person. You are trusting them with your child’s life. We need to also pay attention to our children; some of us may have overlooked the smallest things. For example, if your son or daughter comes home with expensive clothes, shoes, and jewelry that were not provided by your or your spouse, do not be afraid to ask about it. Often, abusers will first try to groom a child by lowering defenses and building a false sense of trust. A victim that has gone through this stage and has been abused for a long period of time is sometimes brainwashed, manipulated and threatened by their abuser to an extent where they have given up hope of ever being saved.
We need to be more observant and monitor our children, especially when technology is becoming a vital part of our society and our everyday needs. The internet was once a fun and convenient tool for us, but now it has become a tool for predators to prey on innocent kids. Young girls and boys have become major targets in chat and game rooms because these websites have become fishing pools for pedophiles. It allows predators to communicate and gain personal information about their victims such as their addresses and the school they attend. They also use this opportunity to set up a meeting with their intended victim without the parents knowing.
As a parent, I understand there are several reasons why other parents give their children cell phones. Working parents need to know if their kids made it home safe to and from school, and if they are okay during their time spent with a sitter. Sometimes parents desire a sense of security and the ability to be quickly reached when they drop off their teens at a friend’s house or at a local shopping mall. With that said, we must monitor the time they spend talking, texting, and surfing the web on their phones. Any late night phone calls and conversations should raise a red flag. We need to become familiar with our kids’ friends and associates. We need to show our kids that we value the relationship we have with them
A strong relationship is built on trust, love, and communication. If your child does not trust you, then there are some things they will hold back from you. They might prefer to trust someone else who they may consider a mentor or friend. When you allow your child to trust you, they will not hesitate to approach you, regardless of the situation. There is no love greater than a parent’s love for his child. We need to show them that they are loved, and they must know their worth. This helps in building their self-esteem so that it is almost impossible for someone else to destroy what you were able to build.
Having a conversation on sexual abuse with a young child may be difficult for some of us, but think twice about the children who are now victims of sexual abuse. Talking to them and monitoring them may at first seem intimidating or as if you are overbearing, but as long as you remember the principles of trust and communication, your child will understand that you are coming from a place of love and concern for their safety. Make it a priority to teach them the simplest things, for instance, the difference between a good and bad touch and kiss. Explain to them the importance of personal boundaries and the harm in keeping secrets from their parents. And if they have been threatened in any way, they need to bring it to your attention immediately and feel confident in your protection.
Victims can only experience so much after enduring abuse, so they are going to need us to help them cope with the trauma they have experienced as well as depression or any guilt they may have. Some young people who have experienced sexual abuse may blame themselves for the attack, or they may feel too embarrassed to report the incident to parents or authorities. Some parents are also childhood victims of sexual abuse and may find it extremely difficult to help their child navigate this ordeal because of the pain and anger they have endured throughout the years. As a society, we can also help by sharing our stories with others. You may never know the impact a victim’s story can have in the life of another child.