by Swarna Surya
Experts estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before their 18th birthdays. Sixty-seven percent of all reported sexual assaults happen to children ages 17 and under. Despite these alarming statistics, there are steps you as a parent can take to reduce your children’s risk of being sexually abused.
We teach our young children all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. We teach them to watch the hot stove, we teach them to look both ways before they cross the street. But, more often than not, body safety is not taught until much older — until sometimes, it is too late. These statistics do not surprise me.
I know children who have been victims of sexual abuse. Many of them are under five years old. Almost all of them knew their perpetrator and more often than not, it is another kid! Parents will frequently tell me that they didn’t think this could happen to them. That they never leave their children with strangers. That they always keep their children within their eyesight.
The fact is, you cannot fully prevent the risk of your child being sexually abused. I know children who have been sexually abused on play dates, sleepovers, in the classroom, on the playground, on the school bus, in their playroom and out in their backyard.
Now that I have officially scared you to death, let’s walk you back down from that cliff. We have to allow our children to go out into the world and interact with those around them. But we can arm them with knowledge that might save them from being victimized. Parents do not always talk to their children about body safety early enough. They think kids are too young, it is too scary. But it is never too soon, and it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Let’s get the conversation started and help eradication of ‘Child Sex Abuse’!
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