What Parents & Carers Can Do?
Don’t assume you will be able to tell if your child is being abused. Most adults miss the signs. And NEVER assume your child will tell you. Few, if any, children do tell and certainly not when they’re children.
Child sexual abuse is a highly devious crime and abused children feel guilty and ashamed. This is probably the main reason children don’t tell. It’s up to the ‘responsible adults’ to teach children how to effectively protect their Personal Space.
“If only I …” is a very difficult and destructive maxim to live with.
Never presume someone is safe just because they don’t have a Criminal Record. As far as child abusers are concerned, lack of a Criminal Record is not a guarantee of innocence. All you can safely assume is they haven’t been caught and convicted.
Abusers induce fear into the minds of the abused. They challenge them by saying things like
- Who will believe you? OR No one’s going to believe you!
- You didn’t stop me!
- You enjoyed it!
- It’s your own fault!
To protect themselves from discovery, abusers ‘groom’ parents and other responsible adults by adopting 2 main tactics. They try to make their ‘target children’ look like troublemakers and/or persuade the grown-ups the child is not to be trusted.
The abuser plays a game of power and control. It’s a mind game as well as a sexual act. The family is under a similar control or ‘spell’ because the abuser has taken time to build their trust.
When a child does not disclose their abuse, it’s not because the child is weak. It’s because of the strength of the abuser’s manipulation.
In many cases, what the abuser does to a victim’s mind is far more devastating than anything that’s done to their body. It’s almost impossible to eradicate the effects of the fear and the shame that’s induced by the abuser. The longer the period of control, the worse the damage is.
If we really want to protect children, we need to make it much more difficult for abusers to come between children and their parents and carers. One way we can do this is to encourage self-confidence in our children. Some ways we can do this are:
- Explain good and bad secrets
- Talk to your children and LISTEN to what they tell you
- Be clear about when touching is OK and when it’s NOT OK
- Tell children they do not HAVE to be hugged or touched
- Tell them with whom they can talk about the situation, someone who can help.
- Choose childcare sensibly
If a child is unhappy about anyone who cares for them, or is not relaxed about one-to-one tuition, for example, ask them ‘WHY’ they feel that way.
Set and respect family boundaries.
- Check out anyone showing exaggerated interest in a child.
- Check refusal to allow child privacy. A child is allowed its personal space.
- Check on anyone insisting on time alone with a child, with no interruptions.
- Check on those who insist on physical affection.
- Check on anyone showing extra interest in a child’s sexual development.
- Check anyone who spends more time with children rather than their own age peer group.
- Respond to your instinct as animals do with predators. Stay away!
- Don’t let logic block your actions or reactions.
Pay attention to your natural instincts
Child abusers do not respect position, power or personality. Child sexual abuse can happen in any family. So don’t be complacent! YOU and your family could be a target. If you feel uncomfortable about someone who is around your child or your child shows signs of discomfort with anyone, pay attention. By the time the police arrive at your door to tell you your child has been abused, it’s too late. There is no way back to life as it was before abuse.