Child sexual exploitation is a serious problem around the world. Sadly, it is not a foreign problem; it is happening right in your neighborhood, community and maybe even in your home. In fact, it is estimated that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will be sexually abused at some point in their life. These numbers are alarming, but true. This is why it is so important that parents and caregivers understand what they can do to protect their children and recognize when there are problem so that the abuse can stop and that the child can get treatment. Here are some things you need to know.
Who Is At Risk?
Sadly, there is no child who is safe from sexual abuse. It happens with family members, schoolteachers, friends, and strangers. This is why it is important that every parent see their child as at-risk so that they can teach them the skills to protect themselves and what to do if something does occur.
How Can A Child Protect Themselves From Sexual Abuse?
In some cases the child has no choice and is entirely a victim. However, most perpetrators target children whom they believe are good candidates. For instance, parents should teach children that they have ownership over their own bodies. For instance, if they don't want to give someone a hug, they shouldn't be forced to. This means that at times the child may choose not to hug grandparents or parents, but that is okay. They have the choice of what they do with their bodies.
It is also important to teach the child that they can say no. In some cases children believe that respecting adults means that they can't disagree. Teach your child that they can be respectful while still saying no and running away if needed.
It is also important that parents have open dialogues with their kids about their bodies. Encourage talking about sensitive topics. Ask the children how they feel about themselves and about others. The more your child talks, the more likely you are to detect strange behaviors.
What Do I Do If My Child Has Been Victimized?
First, teach the child that it was not their fault, and they are not naughty or broken because some hurt them. Second, it is important to get the child the proper therapy and help. There are certain therapists who deal with these issues and can help the child to feel whole again. The destructive signs of sexual abuse may not present themselves during childhood. Instead, the child may spiral as an adult or teen. This is why it is important to treat the problem, even if you can't see any negative effects at that current juncture.
For more information, consider visiting a local children's clinic like Kitsap Children's Clinic LLP.