Clear boundaries are everyone’s friend.Pam Davis
Summertime, generally speaking, means no school and lots more time at family gatherings: barbecues, reunions, long weekends, etc. One of the hard realities of child sexual abuse is that 30% of sexually abused children are abused by a family member. While family members can be some of your strongest allies in protecting your child, you should still think through how to prevent your child from being victimized by someone at a family gathering. As hard as that may be to think about, it’s necessary. Here are five things that you can do to make family gathers safer for your child.
Be wary of one-on-one time between your child and someone else.
Set clear boundaries.
Be aware of grooming patterns.
Maintain open communication with your child.
Don’t let people break family rules.
At family gatherings there can be a “loosey-goosey” feeling about rules. Staying up late is suddenly okay, movies you wouldn’t let your child watch last week are being played, and your teenager is handed their first glass of wine. At best, this sends mixed messages to your child. At worst, it’s paving the way for a perpetrator to gain access and take advantage of this no-rules zone.
Family gatherings can be fun or stressful, depending on your family. Take away some of the stress by preparing beforehand, talking openly to your child, and making sure that everyone knows that your rules will not be broken. You are the best person to keep your child safe in this type of situation, so it’s important to be prepared to do it.
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