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Help keep children safe
April is Child Abuse Prevention and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The thought of a child being sexually abused strikes horror in the hearts of those of us who love them. Most of the time child sexual abusers are master manipulators and people the child trusts
A staggering one in three girls and one in six boys will be victims of sexual abuse by the time they are 18. What can adults do? Tell our children often that we want to keep them safe and to tell us if they don’t like being around certain people. Explain to them that sometimes people who hurt them will try to trick or bribe them and will tell them not to tell anybody — because nobody will believe them, the abuse is their fault, or that, if they tell, they or their family or pets will be hurt.
Unfortunately, some adult survivors report that a caregiver knew about the abuse they were enduring as a child and did nothing. It is important, therefore, for anyone to report suspected child abuse to DHR.
Teens tend to talk more to their peers than to adults. We can inform teens of what to do if a friend confides in them about experiencing sexual or dating abuse — believe their story, don’t gossip, and encourage them to tell trusted adults who can help them. Red flags that indicate a dating partner is abusive include behaviors such as isolating the victim from friends, telling them what to wear, who they can talk to, checking up on them, and emotional or physical abuse which can include sexual abuse. Look for red flags before starting to date someone.
It takes a lot of courage for a child to tell that they are being hurt by someone who could be a family member, friend, or someone they have fallen in love with. We, as the trusted adults in their lives, cannot let them down, and we must follow through with our promise to protect them and keep them safe as long as it is within our power to do so.
We must, as individuals and as a society, continue to raise awareness regarding issues such as violence, and to take a stand against oppression of any kind, which is one of the root causes of exploitation.