A day does not go by without story after horrible story of child abuse in the news. We don’t know how you feel about it, but it seems to us it’s getting worse. As Child Safety Experts and Co-founders of KidSafe Foundation, our mission is “to educate adults and children to prevent child abuse.”
However, after teaching over 30,000 children and providing our seminars, workshops, and trainings to thousands of adults, we are not even making a dent. It’s not enough, and it’s so frustrating.
On one hand, we are so glad to see survivors coming forward to share their stories, as we know not only are they beginning the healing process for themselves but potentially saving hundreds of other children from harm. Yet, as each story is reported, many more pop up and unfortunately the human mind can only take so much before they start to faze out, compartmentalize, and become desensitized to these stories. This is our fear.
Why do we fear this? Because child abuse is an epidemic, and if we start tuning out and turning away from these stories we will not be able to make a difference and prevent children from harm. We need everyone’s help to fight this battle and change the “reported” statistics of 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys being sexually exploited before the age of 18. Please stop, reread that statistic, and make it personal. Think right now of how many children are in your child’s class in school, baseball team, dance class, and even in your family.
Now think about the fact that most children do not report their abuse – so that stat is actually low. With that said, it’s reasonable that some of your children’s friends, classmates, and teammates are being sexually abused right now. Can you turn away from that fact? Can you compartmentalize it? Are you desensitized by it? Our culture is so reactive and personal. For most people, if it does not affect them directly, then it just doesn’t affect them.
Whether you know it or not, sexual abuse of children affects everyone, and we must all do our part to protect children and stop them from being harmed. So what can you do?
- Share your knowledge – when you read a story, when you learn the facts share them with those you know and love.
- Never turn a blind eye if you suspect a child is being harmed, report it.
- Educate yourself as to the warning signs of sexual abuse.
- Supervise your children consistently.
- Tell your children you love them constantly.
- Talk to your children and empower them that their bodies belong to them.
- Let your children know that they can talk to you about anything and that you will not overreact and will help them.
- Tell your children to never keep secrets that make them feel confused or uncomfortable. Give them permission to report a secret even if they were threatened or told not to tell.
- Support organizations working to prevent child abuse. It does not have to be monetary support; it can be volunteering, sending information like this blog to everyone you know, or sharing the knowledge with friends and family.
At the end of the day, we must always keep in mind that our children have the right to be safe. No child should ever have to endure abuse of any kind.
But if you have not talked with your children about this, if you don’t have open communication with them, and if they don’t know they can come to you about anything, how do you know your child is not part of the 1 and 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys who will be sexually abused before they turn 18? You don’t, and that’s the point. Child abuse is everyone’s problem…Get involved!
For more information about KidSafe Foundation www.kidsafefoundation.org