5 Tips From a Psychologist to Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse
We hear it and see it all the time. A gymnastics teacher who got too close to the girls he was coaching, or a doctor downloading child sexual abuse material. But sadly, the statistics are true. Every 73 seconds an American is sexually assaulted and every 9 minutes that victim is a child. And with the internet, it’s becoming even easier for predators to find and sexually abuse our children.
Childhood sexual abuse doesn’t discriminate from race, culture, socioeconomic background, or religion. And while we can never protect our children 100%, there are things we can do to reduce the risk of abuse and recognize the warning signs.
Here are some things Dr. Rachel Needle, a Licensed Psychologist & Certified Sex Therapist recommends to prevent childhood sexual abuse.
5 Tips from a Psychologist to Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Communicate on a Regular Basis- Ask yourself, “Am I actively involved in my children’s life and present, not distracted?” Do you show interest in your child’s life? One way to do this is to ask your children questions every day after school. What was the best part of your day? How are you feeling, what are you doing in class, and who did you eat lunch with? And pay attention to if this changes! Maybe they sat with April every day for two months and then for three days it was Pam. Did something happen? What impacts them and how does it make them feel? These are important questions.
- Be Careful Who You Leave your Children With – Do you know the parents of your children’s friends? Who else is in those homes when your child is dropped off? Do your children’s friends have older siblings, and will the sibling’s friends be present? It’s important to always know who is going to be in the house when your children are there.
- Talk about Our Bodies & Use Correct Terminology – From the very beginning always talk to your children about their bodies, and body parts including genitals, and about appropriate boundaries. When talking about our bodies, teach kids the proper names. This tells them it’s not shameful to use those terms and allows them to talk to you about anything. Also make sure they know that their privates, or anywhere their bathing suit touches, can only be touched by themselves. If a physician needs to touch your child for treatment, a parent must always be present.
- Boundaries– Teach your children what’s healthy in terms of boundaries. It’s their body and they get to decide what they do with their bodies. For example, don’t force your children to hug or kiss a friend or relative. Verbally reinforce that to your kids and ask permission, “Is it OK for me to hug you?” Try to think about it differently, it’s their choice who they hug and kiss, and if they say no, they need to know that you respect that.
- Secrets – There is a difference between safe secrets and unsafe secrets. What do people normally ask you to keep secrets about? Birthday gifts, a special trip to Disney World…those are SAFE secrets. But if someone asks you to keep a secret about your body, or if they tell you that they will hurt you or someone you love if you tell the secret, that’s an unsafe secret.
At Child Rescue Coalition, we protect children from sexual abuse through aiding law enforcement in the identification of child predators that are in possession of child sexual abuse material. Through our partnerships with law enforcement, we are also able to provide tips about keeping your children safe online. Now more than ever, predators are easily able to directly contact your kids through the internet. Open communication is the best tool to protecting our most prized possessions.