Have you ever been a family gathering and someone told a child to hug someone that they did not want to hug? I’m really sensitive about things like that because I feel like it can open the door for child abuse by teaching children to allow others, especially older children or adults or those “in authority” to touch them when and when it makes them feel uncomfortable. A hug hello or goodbye may be innocent, but what about if the child really doesn’t know or like that person and then it goes further?
When K was really small I taught her that no one should be looking at her touching her private parts *unless we are at the doctors office and I am right next to her the whole time. If something like this happens when I’m not around she knows that is ALWAYS ok for her to come to me and tell me what happened, and that she should tell me right away and I will believe her and I will still love her it is not her fault. I have never been sexually abused, but her father was molested as a child and when he told his family members they would not believe him or address it. I learned from him that the pain from those horrific experiences never goes away 100%. It’s 2013 and people still think they can look at a person and tell whether or not they are a child molester. It also seems that people these days still go around with an attitude like “Oh that doesn’t happen anymore” or “That doesn’t happen to anyone that I know.” Those myths allow pedophilia and sexual assault perpetuate in our society.
Parents, teach your children the proper names for their anatomy. If you do, they’ll be less afraid to tell their parents because there’s already open communication about this at home. Our culture makes it so taboo to say “penis” or “vagina,” which breeds more shame for a child if someone approaches them overtly or covertly.
My ex-husband is a survivor of child sexual abuse. Unfortunately, his family did not believe him when he tried to tell them about it. They shamed him and told him to be quiet and never mention such things again. This incident wasn’t obvious to me 20+ years later when I met him, but he was indeed still dealing with the emotional backlash.
LISTEN and BELIEVE your child if they say that someone–even someone close you–has touched them or acted in other inappropriate ways toward them. The way a victim’s family responds to abuse plays an important role in how the incident affects the victim. Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems often lasting into adulthood.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Please get familiar with these child sexual abuse prevention tips. Don’t ignore the signs in your child, because what you don’t know could hurt them.