6 Factors that Increase the Risks of Child Sexual Abuse
While the risk of sexual abuse is relevant for all children, there are certain factors that increase the risk of children being sexually abused. Understanding these risk factors will help keep you alert and strengthen your intuition as a parent.
Here are the six factors that significantly increase the risks of child sexual abuse:
1. Lack of Info about Healthy Sexuality
A lot of times, parents want to shield their children from the topic of sexuality. Thinking that their children are safer if they just don’t know. The thing to remember is that children will likely hear about sex no matter what. It is always best for them to hear about sex from you first.
Children who do lack the necessary info about healthy sexuality are at a higher risk of abuse because they cannot discern between unhealthy and healthy behaviors. Also, children who feel unconfident about approaching their parents about the topic of sexuality tend to believe what their friends tell them or worse the internet.
Work to have frequent conversations with your children about healthy sexuality. Give them real world examples of what is healthy and what isn’t healthy. Always let your children know they can approach you with any questions.
2. Unsupervised Access to Tech
Children with unsupervised access to tech are at higher risks of being abused. This is due to the fact that perpetrators often target children electronically before they do physically. This includes creating intimate relationships on social media.
This is why monitoring your children’s tech use is vital to protecting them. Keep an open conversation about technology in your family. Know the apps your children use. Always work to stay informed on the latest social media trends.
3. Being Insecure or Lonely
Children who are insecure or struggle with self-esteem are more vulnerable to being abused. One of the classic patterns perpetrators use is to give attention to children. They love to gain their trust and make them feel special. Children who are lonely or vulnerable may long for or crave this level of attention.
Stay attuned to how your children are feeling. Always have open conversations about how they feel. Be sure to keep tabs on who their friends are, and who they speak to online.
4. Special Needs
Overall, children with disabilities are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse. For children with intellectual and mental health disabilities, the likelihood increases even more. This might be because perpetrators view them as easier targets because they struggle with communication.
If your child has special needs, don’t hold back on teaching him or her healthy touch and sexuality. If they have troubles communicating, teach specific signs they can use when they feel threatened or in trouble. Teach this important information on a level in which they can understand.
5. Explicit Media Exposure
Children exposed to explicit media are more likely to be sexually abused. Explicit media includes videos, music, television, innuendos, and pictures. A lot of explicit material normalizes abuse and gives a distorted picture of sexuality. This type of material teaches children that unhealthy sexuality is normal and should be expected giving way for perpetrators to take advantage.
Make sure to monitor your child’s technology. Take measures to block such material from phones and computers. Also, teach your child about healthy sexuality, and teach them the dangers of watching, listening, or reading explicit material.
6. Unsupervised Time with Others
Children who are left unsupervised with teens and adults have a higher risk of abuse. The biggest risk is in single-parent or two working parent households where the parents must leave a child alone with coaches, instructors, teachers, babysitters, or family friends.
This is why staying educated on the patterns perpetrators use is important. Learn the signs of sexual abuse. Trust your intuition as a parent. If something doesn’t feel right, there is a good chance you’re right. Teach your children about healthy touch and healthy sexuality. Always, let them know that they can confide in you without being judged.
Understanding these factors and taking an active role in lowering the risks of sexual abuse for your children will help significantly lower the chances of your child ever being sexually abused. You as a parent or caretaker hold the greatest power of prevention. Please use it.