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Prevention Corner

PREVENTION CORNER - March

Child Sexual Abuse


It is appalling to know that child sexual abuse persists in this modern age. Statistics state that about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused as children. Child sexual abuse is defined as any touching or non-touching sexual activity between a child and an adult, adolescent, or older child.  This can include inappropriate touching of genitalia or private areas, rape, forced exposure to pornography, and/or child pornography. 

 

The effects of this abuse can be devastating. If the abuse is not addressed, the effects can appear as substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide attempts; as well as putting the individual at an increased risk for other harmful behaviors.

 

Parents and guardians can be significant allies in the prevention of child sexual abuse. It is never too early to begin having conversations with children. First, talk about the difference between good and bad secrets. Ask children to define what they think a secret is. Use real examples like: “If I told you that we’re going to have a cake for your friend, but to keep it a secret, is that a good or bad secret?”  A good secret is one that doesn’t hurt anyone. However, remind children that if a secret makes them feel uncomfortable they can talk to a trusted adult. If that adult does not believe them, make sure they know to never stop telling until someone believes them.

 

Another conversation to have with children is about good and bad touches. For young children, this can be as simple as identifying their private areas. Let children know that no one should touch their private areas without their consent. Plan what they should do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, tries to touch or touches them. This can range from telling the child to leave the room to utilizing a loud yell. Actions like hugs or kisses are also important to talk about. Children may not always feel comfortable bestowing such affection. By ensuring that a child knows they have the right to choose when to give hugs or kisses gives her/him a feeling of empowerment that can follow them throughout their life.

 

Murphy, G. (2002). Toward a movement to prevent child sexual abuse. Ms. foundation for women.