I just came across a very interesting article with some really shocking numbers about child abuse. As parents we are constantly on the tips of our toes to make sure our children are kept safe. Well, at least I am. But how can you make sure they are safe if you really don’t know what to keep them safe from? We all know the basics: Don’t talk to strangers, don’t post to many information online, don’t send certain pics to people, don’t open the door for someone you don’t know and so on.
When we teach our children those rules we always talk about adults, right? Or did you ever consider mentioning other kids? Well, okay maybe we mention older kids but never children their own age. Because we don’t consider them a risk for sexual abuse. At least I never did. If I think about issues with same aged kids I think of bullying. Nothing else.
Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. You want to hear something even scarier? According to the US Department of Justice only 10% of perpetrators were strangers to the child and 23% of the perpetrators were children themselves!
After reading this article suddenly the issue doesn’t lie hidden behind bushes in a park, lurking for my child to walk past. The predator is no longer only hiding in a public bathroom, waiting to grab a child and sexually harass it.
Almost all of them knew their perpetrator and more often than not – it is another kid! Yes – another kid.
Suddenly the danger zone includes sleepovers, play dates, childcare centers and so on. It all gets to a whole different level. It’s bloody scary! So far you told your kids to be careful with adults they don’t know. Now we all know or just realized that the majority of the abused children actually knew the perpetrator. So that makes it already tricky as friends, neighbors and teacher and even family members can’t be simply ignored.
Now it’s the children too.
Does your child go on playdates? Do they go to daycare or pre-school? Do you have friends or family over to your house? Do they play at the neighbor’s house? The fact is – you cannot fully prevent the risk of your child being sexually abused. I know that is hard to stomach – but unfortunately it is reality.
So what can you do besides locking your child up and never ever let it leave the house without an entourage of bodyguards? Locking up our kids is no option, we all know that as much as we would maybe sometimes like to do it, if only for a short time. And who can actually afford an entourage of bodyguards? I can’t. So all that’s left is education.
Knowledge might be the one difference that might save your children from being a victim!
You can find a list of the 10 most important areas to cover with your child here. As harsh as it sounds, if I can make my child look less a victim than another child just because my child knows some pointers, than I’ve done my part as a mother. As much as I’d like to, I can’t protect every child. My job is to look after my children. So if I teach them what the right things to do are and if I make sure that they know more or less what they are dealing with in this world also in regards to Social Networks I’ve done a lot.
I just find it hard sometimes to keep the balance. The balance between being protective and being too worried. I wanted to use the words over-protective but I honestly struggle using them. Is there such a thing as being over-protective? I’m not sure really. I think you can never be careful enough and in a way you can also never be protective enough.
I want to keep a balance between trusting in the good in this world and trusting in the fact that everything goes well and still give my children the tools to protect themselves. It starts with educating them about what they have to be careful of and as it was said in above mentioned article: We teach them to be careful with a hot plate, with sharp knifes and so many other things. We can also teach them what is okay and what isn’t in regards to their bodies. I guess once they’ve understand that and the whole stranger-danger idea it’s about building on it and make them understand how dangerous it can be to share on social networks.
Being a parent is for sure not an easy ride. And while our grandparents and parents had to deal with many similar things and with things we don’t even worry about anymore, we face an entirely different threat to our kids. In order to make it easier for them to stay safe we need to proceed carefully, otherwise they just think we are the crazy old people not understanding the fun of the new technology (I usually like to say: Hey, we build it. And we built it for a reason. Of course we understand what it’s for…).
The earlier we start teaching our children what they need to protect they easier it will be for them later on to stand up for their rights and hopefully keep away from harm. It starts with educating them and then maybe give them the right tools to also defend themselves physically. Something I hope they will never have to do. I’ll keep my fingers crossed…