1. Will I frighten my child if I talk to him/her about sexual abuse?

Teaching children about sexual abuse prevention and how to react if someone tries to violate them is no different than teaching them fire drills, tornado drills or “stranger danger.” The most important thing is to deliver your message in an age-appropriate manner. There are many excellent books that can help teach these lessons in a way that will not frighten children – and are very educational.

 

  1. How do I know if my child is telling the truth about someone sexually abusing him or her?

The truth is, children very rarely lie about being sexually abused – in fact, they are more likely to deny that it is happening or try to minimize it. If a child tells you he or she is being sexually abused, believe them, and help them get the help they need.

 

  1. What if I think a child is being sexually abused – but he or she denies it?

This is not uncommon. Only one in 10 children who are being sexually abused will tell someone – even if they are asked. Try having a conversation in a place where the child feels safe and happy; instead of asking if someone hurt them, ask if someone has done something that made them feel uncomfortable, or if they have been asked to keep a secret that makes them feel bad. (If you suspect abuse is happening, even if the child does not admit it, remove the child from the suspected threat immediately.) If your child still does not acknowledge it, seek assistance from a qualified therapist who has experience working with child sexual abuse victims; he or she may be able to talk to the child and get information in a way that the child is not comfortable sharing with a parent or close relative.

 

  1. Can children ever fully recover from sexual abuse?

Yes! Children who are supported and feel safe after disclosing their abuse have shown remarkable results in the healing process. Professional intervention, such as counseling, is also important in helping the child and the rest of the family recover and heal.

 

  1. How do I keep my child safe from sexual predators without being overprotective?

The process is the same for keeping them safe from any other type of danger: Teach them what to look for, keep an open line of communication with them, don’t allow them in situations where they are vulnerable – i.e., playing alone in a park while you run errands, walking home alone from a friend’s house. Remember that communication and your parental instincts are two of your greatest allies. And remember that being overprotective can leave your child feeling anxious, fearful and helpless.

 

  1. What is “grooming”?

Grooming is a term for the very deliberate act of befriending and creating an emotional connection with a child so that the child’s inhibitions will be lowered. This is a common practice for child sexual abuse and exploitation; it is an effective form of psychological manipulation that gains the child’s trust in order to allow them to later do what they want.

 

  1. We hear a lot about men molesting children; are there female child molesters?

Yes, but only about 1 percent of child molesters are women. Most are men, more than 70 percent of them are married or in long-term heterosexual relationships, and 93 percent consider themselves “very religious.”

 

  1. If someone is sexually abused as a child, will they grow up to be a sex offender?

Being sexually abused does not automatically turn a child into a sex offender. About 47 percent of sex offenders were victims of sexual abuse. Proper emotional support contributes to the healthy recovery from sexual abuse.

 

  1. How do I tell if someone is a child molester? Is there a typical profile of a sex offender?

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Sexual predators may be young, old, wealthy, poor, from any race or ethnicity; they may be civic leaders or lead quiet lives. Because there is no single indentifying factor, it’s important for everyone to know the warning signs, act on their instincts, and be aware of who their children are spending time with.

 

  1. I don’t know anyone who has been sexually abused. Why do I need to be involved?

Child sexual abuse is everyone’s problem. Most people, if asked, will vehemently agree that child sexual abuse is wrong. But it’s a topic that makes people uncomfortable, so they are hesitant to get involved in sexual abuse awareness or education. Given the statistics, the fact is that you DO know someone who has been sexually abused; they simply haven’t told you. More importantly, you may know a child who is being sexually abused. Learning the warning signs and knowing how to act effectively, appropriately and responsibly is part of each person’s duty as a caring, socially responsible adult.

 

SOURCE: "Pedophiles Don't Discriminate: How to Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse" facilitators' workbook.

 

 

 

 

 

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