The CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. The statistic for boys is a bit deceiving because boys many times don’t report their abuse.
As a person who was molested as a child, I prayerfully try use my experience to empower me as a parent.
I can’t guarantee that my children will not go through similar abuse, but I can be proactive in educating and protecting them. One of my main tools in protecting my children from sexual abuse is speaking the truth about it. I know personally the difference it makes to keep the lines of communication open.
I talk to all of my children about their bodies and let them know what parts are private and off limits. In age-appropriate ways, I tell them what it means for someone to touch you in inappropriate ways.
I also let them know that anyone can do this, even people in our family, or people that dad and mom love and respect. I do this intentionally. Most sexual molestation happens within the family or at least within one’s social circle. I don’t want my child to feel like I would be crushed if they ever told me that someone I love sexually abused them. I let them know that I am well aware that this can happen.
Finally, I explicitly tell my kids what they may feel if they were ever a victim of sexual abuse and the lies they may be tempted to believe. They may feel guilty or that I will be disappointed in them. I tell them what the truth is now, BEFORE it happens. I tell them that there is nothing YOU can do to make someone sexually abuse you and you will have my full support and protection when you come and tell me. You must speak up!
When things are kept in the dark and in secret we give them more power over us. Making this topic a normal, natural one between my children and me gives THEM the control:
- They are made more aware of the danger
- Will know how to best protect themselves, and
- Will feel more comfortable going to safe people if abuse ever happens.
Let us all have the power to speak the truth to our children about sexual abuse and empower them with knowledge and awareness!