We live in a different time. Sexual abuse has always existed. The Old Testament records three specific cases of sexual abuse. But, in this day and age, it is now more frequently exposed and portrayed in the media.
I can now use my computer to see who is on the sexual abuse registry in my own county of Kentucky. This allows all of us to be more aware and also more concerned for the safety of our children. But research by Kilpatrick, Saunders, and Smith in Youth Victimization: Prevalence and Implications said that only 10% of sexual abuse is done by strangers. They reported that as many as 40% of abusers are larger or older children – siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors, community members.
We know God made us to connect with Himself and others. How do we know who is safe to have a relationship with and who is not? It is one thing to be aware as adults, but it is a whole other thing to protect our children.
Last week, I was talking with a group of highly respected and educated colleagues. Several people shared that they would never allow their children to sleep over at the home of a friend or acquaintance. I began pondering. If there are no sleep-overs, does that mean that overnight church camps and mission trips are also off limits to our youth? As a therapist, I see adults and children who have experienced sexual abuse. Unfortunately, many suffered this abuse at the hands of close family members. How do we trust that our children are safe at family reunions and birthday parties?
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes wish I could put children in a protective bubble until they turn 18 years of age. But, children will have to interact with teachers, coaches, neighbors, pastors etc. and we can’t shield them totally.
The best thing we can do is pray for their safety and teach them how to stay safe. The job of safety is not a job of the school or the church; it is a parent’s responsibility. The following are some of my favorite resources for parents. Yes, this is an uncomfortable subject, but one that every parent must teach.
This resource is an interactive Web tool. It is designed to educate and encourage conversations between parents and children so they can make safer and smarter choices to protect against abuse. Families are led through scenarios and videos to practice safe choices.
This resource teaches adults how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
It was produced for individuals and organizations concerned about child safety. The online version allows a person to train at any time or place and at a pace of their choosing. It takes two hours and is $10.
This resource is a book by Gavin Becker. This book gives parents practical steps for child sexual safety. Topics include how to prepare a child for walking alone, how to spot predators, how to interview child care workers, and how to teach your child about sexual safety without causing too much fear.
This resource is a children’s book by Linda Walvoord Girald. In this book an elementary age girl talks about privacy and how to say “no” to uncomfortable touches. And, as a bonus, this book is free on Kindle as of 6/3/15!
This simple picture book by Gail Saltz is written to introduce young children to beginning knowledge of reproduction, birth, and the difference between girl’s and boy’s bodies. This can be a preliminary source for addressing basic sexual information.
Summer is here and many children will spend more time online. This is a resource for child internet safety.
This website has concise information regarding predators and how to spot them.