NICRP | Prevent Child Abuse Nevada: Parents

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Who are the Victims?

Abusers and Grooming Tactics

Signs & Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse

Stages of Healthy Sexual Development

Preventing Abuse Starts in the Home

Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

Preventing Abuse Starts in the Home*

As adults, it is our responsibilty to communicate to children that it is okay to talk to us or ask questions about any situations that make them feel confused or uncomfortable. We need to help children understand that no matter what, their feelings will be respected and taken seriously.

Time spent in secrecy is most highly correlated with the degree of trauma from child sexual abuse, according to survivors. Parents can build skills to help break the secrecy.

Many parents are hesitant to discuss sexual abuse with their children becuase they don't want to unnecessarily scare their children, however, those same parents never worry about scaring their children when cautioning them to be careful of cars, for example. Rather, those types of discussions are approached as important ways of teaching children about health and safety - that cars can be dangerous but there are safety rules to protect children- parents can use the same approach when discussing the subject of sexual abuse.

Ways Parents can Break the Secrecy

  • Thnk broader than behavior signs in children. Children may first ask about what is expected of them.
  • Children's efforts to tell are often embedded in dialogue, i.e. what they say or are trying to say.
  • Children often need an occasion or opportunity at hand in order to tell.
  • Parents can improve their sensitivity to hear what children are trying to tell and this can break the silence.

  • Abuse Prevention Tips for Parents

    1. Begin talking to your child abuse personal space and privacy by age 3.
    2. Only allow those you trust to provide genital, perianal and bathing care for your child. Encourage children's independence in personal self-care.
    3. Introduce the concepts of "OK touch" and "Not OK touch".
    4. Discourage co-bathing with siblings and adults once your child begins elementary school. Supervise bathing before this time.
    5. Teach children to respect adults' and siblings' privacy.

    Talking Points:
    (To discuss child sexual abuse with your child)

    1. All body parts have names and can be talked about respectfully. Names for "private pares" are penis, vagina, breasts, and buttocks.
    2. Grown-ups and older children have no business "playing" with a child's private body parts.
    3.Grown-ups and older children never, ever need help from children with their private body parts.
    4. It is important not to cross another child's body boundaries and touch their private parts.
    5. Surprises can be fun for kids but secrets are not okay.
    6. You are a special person and deserve to be treated with love and respect.
    7. If you're ever confused about private body parts or anything about your body or touching, you can ask me about it and I will help you.

    These messages are important for children to know, but there are a variety of reasons why these topics would be avoided both by parents.

    Barriers to Prevention
  • False sense of security: "This couldn't happen to my kids."
  • Belief that perpetrators are easily identifiable and avoidable.
  • Belief that loved family members and trusted acquaintances would never abuse.
  • Discomfort with speaking about sexual abuse or sexuality in general.
  • Lack of knowledge about how to prevent abuse or how to respond to it in helpful ways.
  • Fear of opening Pandora's Box: "What would I do if it really did happen?"
  • There are at least three consequences of this secrecy and silence that occurs in families and organizations. First, adults are not adequately protecting children from people who might abuse them. Second, adults and children are not communicating about a major safety risk. Finally, this secrecy and silence results in adults and communities who have not been mobilized for prevention.

    Just as parents have to remind children regularly to do homework, clean their rooms, brush their teeth, etc., parents need to have ongoing communication with their children about these important body safety messages. See Straight Talk About Child Sexual Abuse: A Prevention Guide for Parents for more information.

    The LAST Method: An Easy Way to Answer Children's Questions**

    Children learn about sexuality in many ways and in many situations, and one of those ways is by asking questions. While some questions about sexuality can be uncomfortable or tough to answer, it is important that parents are open to children's questions so that children become more comfortable talking about sexuality.

    L - LISTEN
    Listen deeply. What is going on here? Is there a question behind the question? Find out what led the child to ask the question so that you understand it before beginning to answer.

    A - ASK
    Ask the child what s/he thinks the answer is. This will give you the information on what the child already knows or thinks, as well as help to clarify the question.

    S - SORT
    Sort out your emotions and the message you want to give. Decide when and where you want to communicate this message to the child. It is OK to take the time to decide on exactly what messages you want to convey.

    T - TALK
    With respect, and at the child's level of curiosity and understanding, talk to the child, keeping your answers simple and accurate. If you do not know the answer to a question a child has asked, you can look it up on a computer or at a library.

    *Information gathered from Program Materials.
    **Adapted from Care for Kids Curriculum, The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit, 2000.

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    Amanda Haboush-Deloye: Director of Programs- PCA Nevada

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