Principle 1: Dispel the Myths
There are a lot of myths about sexual abuse. For example, most parents believe that teaching their child about “stranger danger” will protect them from potential perpetrators. While it is good to teach about stranger danger, the unfortunate reality is that most perpetrators are in the family circle of trust and not strangers. Dispelling this myth will help you become more aware of where the risks really are.
8 Myths of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Danger Isn’t Always a Stranger
Principle 2: Recognize Perpetrator Patterns
Perpetrators are often charismatic and work hard to establish trust with the child they are grooming as well as that child’s family. A parent who recognizes these grooming patterns is better prepared to stop abuse before it happens. An informed parent may be enough of a deterrent to a potential perpetrator.
6 Perpetrator Grooming Patterns Every Parent Needs to Know
Principle 3: Understand Factors that Increase Risk
There are certain factors that increase the risk that a child will be targeted. For example, children who have unsupervised access to tech are much easier targets for a perpetrator than children whose online activity is monitored. Perpetrators look to exploit children who are less likely to disclose the abuse.
6 Factors that Increase the Risks of Child Sexual Abuse
Principle 4: Learn Tools that Minimize Risk
Specific tools can be used to minimize the risk of your child being sexually abused. A parent who knows and employs these tools can not only reduce the risk, but also increase the overall health and well-being of their children.
10 Tools Parents Can Use to Minimize the Risk of Childhood Sexual Abuse
Principle 5: Confront with Kindness
It’s not necessary for you to accuse someone of abuse to get his or her attention. If you see grooming patterns between someone and your child, simply pull the individual aside and let them know that you aren’t comfortable with their behavior toward, and interaction with, your child. If their behavior was innocent, they will likely be very apologetic and respect the boundaries you’re creating. If the individual is a perpetrator, they’ll know that you’ll be watching them closely and thus reduce the risk that they will abuse your child. If you know someone is abusing your child, do not approach the perpetrator. Allow the authorities to do so.
Remember that YOU are responsible to protect your child and that can include difficult conversations with people you love and respect.
What to Do If You Suspect Your Child has Been Sexually Abused