Protecting Children and Teens

 

 

How caregivers can minimize the opportunities for sexual abuse

 

  • Assure that each child has a safe designated adult who will listen to them and protect them.
  • Have children spend more time in groups and less time alone with older people.
  • Drop in often when children are in your home with other children or other adults.
  • Supervise the children’s use of the internet.
  • Tell others that you and your children are educated about children’s sexual abuse.  Be direct.
  • In schools, ensure rules that teachers are never alone with a student.
  • Set a code word that your child can use to tell you when they feel unsafe. Instruct the child that that same code word would be used if someone tells your child that he/she was sent to take the child to the parents.
  • Be cautious when older friends or family members hug, kiss, flirt with, or hold a child excessively, whether the child does or does not want this attention. If your child is uncomfortable with an older person, ask why.
  • Be cautious when older friends or family members want to take your child on solo outings, or gives them money or gifts with no motivation.

 

      Talk with your children about sexual abuse:

  • Discuss sexual abuse early and discuss it often.
  • Assure your child that it is your responsibility to protect her/him and that you are doing everything possible to make sure they are safe.
  • Use the correct names for parts of the body.
  • Teach your child to talk with you when they are uncomfortable.

     

      When you learn/are told about a sexual abuse or have some suspicions:

  • Stay calm.
  • Believe what the child tells you about the abuse.
  • Thank the child and praise their courage.
  • In the United States, contact your local sexual abuse agency.
  • Make a safe and calm place for the child to discuss the incident with you.
  • Understand how fear and embarrassment block the child’s willingness or ability to talk about the abuse.

 

 

How teens can protect themselves from sexual violence

 

Remember: “Yes” means yes.  Everything else means NO!

 

Someone you know may coerce you or force you to have sex, sometimes giving you alcohol or drugs, or just strong persisting and promises of love. If this happens when you are out with someone in a social setting, it is still sexual abuse or rape – date rape.

 

What can you do to stay safe?

  • Be respectful to others and stay away from persons who do not show you respect or consideration.
  • Know that you have the right to change your mind, to say no at any time, and to agree to some sexual acts but not others.
  • If the situation goes too far and you feel in danger, say that you want to stop, resist. Make a scandal if necessary.
  • Avoid excessive alcohol or drugs. They reduce your ability to think and communicate clearly. However, if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that does not give someone the right to sexually abuse you.
  • Serve yourself your own drinks and keep an eye on your drink. Drugs can be mixed in drinks without your knowing it.
  • Be careful if you go places where you will be alone with another person.
  • Have a safety plan with trusted friends or family members. Have a code word that you use when you call or text your trusted friend or family member if you feel you are in danger.
  • Believe your instincts. If you feel a person is not trustworthy or the situation is not safe, run away.
  • Prepare an alternative plan. For example, if you go to a party in an unknown neighborhood, make sure someone you trust knows where you are going. Ensure that this person could come get you in case you feel you are in danger.
  • Dress to show that you respect yourself.

 

Resources:

Talking to Your Children about Sex by Gail Santilli, New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network. How to Prevent Sexual Abuse from a Person You Know.

 

 

 


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