PARENTS PLEASE BE AWARE - IT'S A PANDEMIC!

According with CDC, child sexual abuse is a significant but preventable public health problem. Many children wait to report or never report child sexual abuse. Although estimates vary across studies, the data shows:

  • About 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse at some point in childhood.

  • 91% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or child’s family knows.

  • The total lifetime economic burden of child sexual abuse in the United States in 2015 was estimated to be at least $9.3 billion. Although this is likely an underestimate of the true impact of the problem since child sexual abuse is underreported.

My goal with this blog is to educate and empower parents with tools so they would be equipped and prepared to talk with their children about this subject matter and may be together, we could create a wave of awareness, working with prevention to save the next generation.

If you want to know why I am so personally invested on this awareness mission, please read my previous post (BLOG | Sasskids.com).

So, if 91% of the abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or the family knows, it means that chances are that the perpetrator will not make their move under our watchful eye! They will find opportunities to approach your child and they are alone!

So, please take the action necessary to educate your children so they will know what to do in this circumstance. Prevention is our weapon here.

Following, will give you some information that you should know about Child Sexual abuse. This information you will also find on the first part of my book “Super Agents Safety Squad”.

WHAT IS CHILD ABUSE?


Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes any sexual activity with a minor.

A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child in this way, they are committing a crime which can also have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Some forms of child

Some forms of child sexual abuse include:

• Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

• Fondling

• Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

• Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or videos of children

• Masturbation in the presence of a minor, or forcing the minor to masturbate

• Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

• Sex trafficking

• Intercourse

• Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child’s mental, emotional, or physical welfare.

Our kids need to know what the right and healthy behavior between them and adults in their lives, and when the line is being crossed.

Parents, we need to be aware that, unfortunately, this aberrant behavior happens more often than we think, and is typically perpetrated by somebody close, so we often “never see it coming.”

As parents, we often want to raise our kids in a protective bubble, shielded from any and

all harm, but unfortunately this is not how life plays out in the real world. So, it’s a key part of our parental duty that WE PREPARE THEM for any situation so that, hopefully, when they’re out there in the world, they will be equipped with the knowledge necessary and know how to respond in a way that will protect them. However, if you are reading this because you already have concerns about the welfare of your child or someone you know, please pay close attention to this next section.


DONT BE CLUELESS...

This subject is broad so I surely can’t cover it comprehensively here. But I will give you this online resource where you can obtain more information needed to address various child sexual abuse scenarios.

According to this article (Don't be Clueless. Learn the Possible Signs of Child Sexual Abuse (anxioustoddlers.com), child therapist Natasha Daniels, LCSW, provides important tips for parents to watch out for. Because I thought

everything she says here is of vital importance, I reached out and obtained her permission to share this information of hers here with you (as follows):

You have concerns. You have suspicions. But, how can you be sure? You want that definitive list.

Those definitive signs and behaviors to confirm or disconfirm your worst beliefs about sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, no one can do that for you – not even this article. Sexual abuse isn’t like a disease,

with its obvious checklist of symptoms. Kids respond and react differently to child sexual abuse; therefore no

one can definitively tell you that your suspicions are right or wrong.

What I can tell you, however, are behaviors that warrant concern. There are some behaviors, which as a child therapist, make me take a closer look.

Having said that, I need to make one point abundantly clear. Many children do not show any signs of child sexual abuse. Many of the children I see in my practice never gave any indication of sexual abuse prior to it being discovered.

Here are signs that would make a therapist concerned. Please note – these behaviors aren’t necessarily an indicator of sexual abuse, but are concerning behaviors, nonetheless. If you are concerned that your child might be a victim of sexual abuse, please take them to a child therapist to be evaluated as soon as possible.

If you know a child that is being sexually abused, you need to report it to law enforcement.


Behaviors that are concerning:


Sexualized Play

If your very young child is having sexualized play with their dolls or toys, this is concerning behavior. It isn’t abnormal for children to have their dolls kissing or laying on top of each other, but it would be atypical for a child to be acting out oral sex or other sexualized acts with their toys.

Penetrating Themselves with Objects

This may be hard to talk about, but if young children are taking toys or fingers and sticking them up their anus or vagina, this warrants concern. Children will explore their body parts, but it is less common for children to digitally penetrate themselves with objects or fingers.

Inappropriately Touching Others

If your child is trying to touch adults or children in their private areas, this can be a concern. Children are curious and will explore with each other, but if your child is putting their mouth on another child’s private parts or is digitally penetrating other kids – this goes beyond exploration.

Bleeding and Infection from Private Parts

If your child has bleeding, infection or bruising around or in their private area for unknown reasons, this is a concern. Get them to the doctor right away for a full exam.

Playing Secret Sexualized Games

If children are wanting to play secret body games with their friends, this deserves further exploration. Many children will play games that involve private parts as part of normal exploration and development, but If kids have a name for the game and special nicknames for various private parts, this might be more than typical play. Often pedophiles will incorporate games and special nicknames for private parts to manipulate children. Sexually abused kids will often attempt to play these games with other kids around them.

A Strong Negative Response Around a Particular Person

If your child is normally polite, but they are uncharacteristically rude or frightened by a person they encounter, it would be worth exploring further. It is important to note, that many of the children I have worked with continued to be friendly or affectionate to the person that was sexually abusing them. This was often the reason parents dismissed any of their concerns or gut feelings. Do not discount abuse just because your child does not show signs of anger or fear around a person you have concerns about.

The US Department of Justice’s National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) lists 12 other behaviors that can be signs of possible sexual abuse.

I know that many of these behaviors are very general and can be caused by other issues as well, therefore it is important to seek out the guidance of a professional for a full assessment.

• Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation. Seems distracted or distant at odd times

• Has a sudden change in eating habits

• Refuses to eat

• Loses or drastically increases appetite

• Has trouble swallowing

• Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues

• Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places

• Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child

• Writes, draws, plays, or dreams of sexual or frightening images

• Talks about a new older friend

If you are seeing any of the above warning signs, or if you just have that parental gut feeling – talk to a professional. These signs may not point directly to sexual abuse, but they do indicate there is a problem in general that needs exploring.

www.ParentsProtect.co.uk/warning_signs.htm (very thorough article on this topic)

www.StopItNow.org/ohc-content/tip-sheet-7 \

My thanks to Ms. Daniels for providing this invaluable information of hers. Let me say in

closing, from my family to yours, I truly hope this will help you and your own children gain awareness to keep them safe and protected, and hopefully you will also share these words of prevention with others. A wise motto you’ve probably heard is a guiding and practical one: “Always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”


May God bless you & your children,


Denize Rodrigues


 

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