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“Two Elementary School Teachers: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer were arrested and charged with committing lewd acts upon children.”
Are you outraged by this headline? This recent news of Miramonte Elementary school in California where not one, not two, but maybe three or more adults abused children is one of those stories that makes you feel sick to your stomach.
We can’t help but think of all the children who have been through this school. How many may have been abused? Will we ever really know how many there were? Most children do not report abuse. But what we do know is that once again, this is a story of adults who turned a blind eye and failed to protect children. What is it going to take to get the world to understand that child abuse is an epidemic - a sickness that invades our schools, sports fields, places of worship and our homes? A sickness that's difficult to sometimes "see," but still life-threatening as the consequences for survivors are felt forever.
The child abuse epidemic needs to be treated and we believe the treatment is prevention education. However, that can only happen when the world understands that this is not going away, it is just getting worse and that these children being harmed are the future leaders of the world. We need them safe, we need them whole and most importantly they deserve to be safe and have joy in their life.
We must start by educating all adults. Here are some tips for parents to help keep their children safe at school:
Be aware of adults who...
And most importantly, you need to have open communication with your children. At KidSafe, we talk to parents and discuss listening to your gut instincts, your intuition - please don’t suppress it in an attempt to believe that everybody is decent and good because when you do that, you put your children at risk of harm. If it seems too good to be true….it may just be too good to be true. Which is unfortunately why stories of abuse can be so shocking - the teacher, coach, babysitter was often known as the “best” most wonderful person making it hard for people to believe that they could have done what they are accused of. (This is all part of a predator's grooming process.)
The following topics should be open and ongoing conversations:
The reality is that at the end of the day, every child is vulnerable to child abuse. However, a child who has open communication with their parents, a child who is taught to not keep secrets, a child who is taught safe and unsafe touch and boundaries becomes a much harder target for a predator. And as savvy as the predators can be …they are looking for an easy target.
Let’s cure the epidemic of child abuse by empowering our children and educating ourselves and all adults about signs, symptoms what to be aware of to prevent abuse. Let’s make our children hard targets for predators. For more information visit www.kidsafefoundation.org to learn how to talk to your children about these sensitive topics, and please read our 2011 Award Winning Safety Book - “My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!”