Informed parents are a key component in the fight against child abuse. Here is how you can be One with Courage.
Learn the signs and symptoms of abuse
Learn the signs and symptoms of abuse, and educate others about the signs and symptoms of abuse.
Start a conversation
Start a conversation with co-workers, family, friends and neighbors about the signs and symptoms of abuse.
A child’s safety is an adult’s job
Children are often taught how to keep themselves safe, which is important, but they are just children. We teach them to be safe and protect them in so many areas; this should include preventing sexual abuse. Children are taught to mind grownups, but they also need to be taught that they have the right to say “no” and the right to privacy. Their body is their own.
Put limits on one-adult/one-child situations, even with authority figures. By establishing clear rules and boundaries like this, the risk of abuse is reduced. Set an example by personally avoiding one-adult/one-child situations with children other than your own. Think carefully about gatherings and encourage group participation whenever possible.
Monitor your child’s online activity
Monitor your child’s internet use. Be aware of whom and what they are sharing online, make sure no personal information is given out. Not everyone is who they say they are, and when online it can be hard to know for sure. Use parental controls, and minimize time spent on the computer, especially when in private. Put the family computer in a central location of the house.
Talk openly with your children. Good communication may decrease a child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse and increase the likelihood that the child will tell you if abuse has occurred.
Act on suspicions
Many of those who sexually abuse children have multiple victims. You may be faced with a situation where you suspect abuse but don’t have any proof. Suspicions are scary, but trust your instincts. Have the courage to report suspected abuse. The future well-being of a child may be at stake.
Watch for signs of regression in a child’s behavior
Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even the loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
Make a plan
Make a plan. How you react when a child discloses can have a very powerful impact. Parents plan for emergencies of all types, and this should be the same. Very few reported incidents are false, think through your response, show belief, and thank the child for having the courage to tell you. Don’t panic, sexually abused children who receive support and psychological help can and do heal.
Remember, you are obligated by law to report suspected child abuse.
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