Childhood is a time of fun, frolic and excitement. It is a time when children discover the world in their own way. However, too many children are denied this opportunity because they are sexually abused. In most cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts, maybe a parent, carer or neighbour.
Stories in the media coupled with misunderstandings about Child Sexual Abuse often makes us feel that Child Sexual Abuse is either inevitable or negligible. It either forces us to feel helpless as caregivers or forces us into denial that my child can never be abused. It also forces some of us to become hypervigilant. However, it is true that adults cannot be with children all the time. It is equally true that when parents and carers initiate conversations with children on personal safety and give them knowledge and skills, children can participate in their own safety.
We know it can be hard for parents and carers to talk to children about Child Sexual Abuse. No doubt, Child Sexual Abuse is an issue that is difficult to talk about, and often, difficult to even acknowledge. Every caregiver worries about their children’s safety, but there is also an apprehension that talking to children about personal safety, will make them anxious and frighten them.
We agree that fear is not an effective teaching tool, but confidence is. Like you, we also want our children to grow up with the belief that most adults are safe. We also believe that physical affection is a vital part of bringing up children and should be positively encouraged. However, we also believe teaching children about personal safety from a young age provides them with knowledge and skills to prevent Child Sexual Abuse and seek support in case of any violations.
Parents and teachers can play a critical role in making children aware of personal safety as part of family or school safety rules. Just like you teach your children safety rules about crossing the road, you can also teach them about safe and unsafe touches. By initiating a conversation on personal safety you are also letting children know that you are always available for children to reach out to. You are the child’s best teacher and when you teach children to take the safest action in any situation, it becomes empowering rather than crippling.
You’re not alone!! Having worries about a child is an uncomfortable feeling. Whether you’re concerned about your own child or another child, not knowing what to do or questioning if you’ve got things wrong can make it hard to act upon your worries. We can help you, and give you the confidence to make the right call. To learn more about ensuring the safety of children from abuse