How to Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
There was a child molestation case sometime back in the news and it grieves the heart to see one so little go through that much pain and anguish.
There are rape cases of minors daily which naturally are painful to watch or hear about, however this case was especially painful as it involved a child of six months.
As expected, the child was badly wounded and needed to be hospitalized, connected to life-support to save her life.
Again, there was yet another case also recently of a 31-year-old guy who repeatedly raped a nine-year-old minor. Although the perpetrator was caught, the trauma from being sexually molested or raped never truly goes away, especially when it stays hidden.
While the real figure of abused kids remains unknown, it is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience sexual abuse before they turn 18. The figures on child sexual molestation are alarming and sadly, continue to get worse.
Here are Some Key Facts about Child Sexual Abuse Every Parent Should Know
- Children are molested a lot more than adults as almost 70% of all reported cases happen to kids ages 17 and under.
- Child sexual abuse is more serious than you know and approximately 5 children die because of this daily.
- There are 42 million adults survivors of child sexual abuse in the US alone.
- Most children who have been abused do not tell anyone out of fear or guilt. 73% of children don’t speak about it for at least a year and 45% for another 5 years. Some never speak about it at all.
- Children living with single parents are more at risk of being sexually abused.
- Children of all races, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status have some sort of risk of being abused.
- Disabled children also have a higher risk of being sexually abused.
- Family structure has been pointed to as the most significant risk factor of child sexual abuse. Children who live with a single parent are at a higher risk as opposed to kids living with tap biological parents.
- There are also some risks when children live with stepparents.
- Kids in foster homes have ten times the risk than children living with biological parents.
- Children living with a single parent who has a live-in partner have a much higher risk than any other group; up to 20 times more risk.
- A child’s gender is also a major risk factor as girls are 5 times more likely to b abused than boys.
- The most vulnerable age for children to be abused is between the ages of 7 and 13, with 9 years being the median age for reported cases.
- Children of African American descent have twice the risk of being abused than white kids.
- Hispanic kids also have a slightly higher risk than non-Hispanic kids.
- Kids in rural areas also have a slightly higher risk than kids in urban regions.
Perpetrators of Child Sexual Abuse
Reports have found that men are the perpetrators in most cases, with women being perpetrators in just 14% of reported cases.
Also, over 60% of these incidences are carried out by no relatives, with 30% by relatives, and 10% by strangers.
Most cases of this abuse occur in the residence of the victim with most reported to occur at a specific times of the day: 8 am, noon, 3 -4 pm, and late evenings.
Perpetrators report they look out for certain qualities in victims like being passive, quiet, lonely, troubled, or children from broken homes or of single parents.
They also target children of a very trusting nature.
Sexual Abuse Signs to Look Out for
If you suspect a child is being sexually abused, here are some signs you should look out for. Physicsl signs include likely genital irritation, painful bowel movements, or infections.
Behavioral signs will present in one or a combination of the following:
- A self-destructive tendency and acts
- Social withdrawal
- Fear of being alone
- Learning difficulties
- Night sweats
- Sleep problems
- Sudden nightmare
- Inappropriate language
- Alcohol and substance abuse
- Sexualized behaviours
- Hyper sexuality
- Anger at self or no one in particular
- Eating disorder
- Chronic pain, neurosis
- Animal cruelty.
- Suicidal tendencies
Children who were responded to judgmentally or disbelieved, even a little when they voiced out their attack usually withdraw and find it harder to open up again.
Sexual abuse against children continues to raise mainly because children are vulnerable and seen as easy preys. Most children are abused by people they know and trust.
How to Protect Your Child/Ward from Sexual Predators?
With the continuous rise in such rape cases, it behoves parents and guardians to try and protect their wards as best they can and here are some ways to achieve that:
1) Build a Strong Relationship with Them
Spend as much time as you possibly can with your kids. Kids find it easier to open up to adults about ‘secrets’ in their lives when they feel close to or free with you. You have to find a way to strike a balance between being their friend and still being their parent/disciplinarian.
2) Get Educated about Sexual Abuse
Know as much as possible about sexual abuse and sexual predators. You should also know if there are abusers in your locality and what is being done about them.
3) Educate Your Kids about Sexual Abuse
Let your kids know about sexual abuse and about sexual predators. You don’t have to go into so much details, you need only teach them as much as their minds can grasp as kids to keep them safe.
Let them know that sexual predators exist everywhere, even on the internet. You also want to monitor what sites they have access to.
Let them know that respect doesn’t always man doing what those in authority tell them to do, especially when these acts seem clearly wrong.
4) Teach Them about Their Body Parts
Let them know the proper names of each reproductive organs. Teach them to know it’s not okay for anyone to touch their vagina or penis or touch them in any way that makes them uncomfortable and to tell you if this happens.
5) Stay Alert for Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse
You should know that there are instances where your child might keep incidences of sexual abuse to themselves, especially if they feel ashamed or have been threatened by the perpetrator. You should, therefore, always be on the lookout for more signs if your child shows one or more of these signs.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Child is Being Sexually Abused
It is important to stay calm if your child reports or you suspect he or she is being abused. Try to reassure them the abuse is not their fault. You want to take your child for a medical examination and start therapy Immediately.
You should report the case to the local police or contact your local Children’s Social Service or any other sexual abuse helpline on:
- 0808 1000 900
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre
- NSPCC helpline
- Other Helpful Resources
Children recover from sexual abuse a lot more easily when they the support of a caring parent.
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