Child sexual abuse

Recently, I was conducting a training for teachers and parents when I was asked where to get accurate information about child sexual abuse. Although there are several excellent websites, I discovered Darkness to Light!  It is a truly amazing site for practical and up to date information for parents and teachers. I am sharing this vital information from their site.
•1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
•30% of children are abused by family members.
•As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts.
•About 35% of victims are 11 years old or younger.
•Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.
Stranger danger is a myth
Research shows that the greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers, but from friends and family. People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy, seeking out settings where they can gain easy access to children, such as sports associations, faith centers, clubs, and schools.
Child sexual abuse impacts everyone and is a root cause of many health and social problems our communities face. The consequences to children and to our society begin immediately.
•70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use.
•One study showed that among male survivors, 50% have suicidal thoughts and more than 20% attempt suicide.
•Young girls who are sexually abused are more likely to develop eating disorders as adolescents.
•More than 60% of teen first pregnancies are preceded by experiences of molestation, rape, or attempted rape.
•Both males and females who have been sexually abused are more likely to engage in prostitution.
Sexually abused children who keep the abuse a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk for psychological, physical and emotional problems.
Understand how
children communicate
•Children who disclose sexual abuse often tell a trusted adult other than a parent. It’s important for children to know who a trusted adult.
•Children may tell portions of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to gauge adult reaction.
•Children will often “shut down” and refuse to tell more if you respond emotionally or negatively.
  Understand why
children are afraid to tell
•The abuser shames the child, points out that the child let it happen, or tells the child that his or her parents will be angry.
•The abuser is often manipulative, and may try to confuse the child about what is right and wrong, or tell them the abuse is a “game.”
•The abuser sometimes threatens to harm the child or a family member.
•Some children who do not initially disclose abuse are ashamed to tell when it happens again.
•Children are afraid of disappointing their parents and disrupting the family.
•Children often love the abuser, and don’t want to get anyone in trouble or end the relationship.
•Some children are too young to understand.
When we talk to children in age appropriate ways about our bodies, sex, and boundaries, children understand what healthy relationships look like. It also teaches them that they have the right to say “No.” They become less vulnerable to people who would violate their boundaries, and are more likely to tell you if abuse occurs.
How to talk to kids about sexual abuse
•Teach children that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them, and use examples.
•Teach them what parts of their bodies others should not touch.
•Be sure to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend, family member, or older youth.
•Teach children not to give out personal information while using the Internet, including e-mail addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers.
•Start early and talk often. Use everyday opportunities -” teachable moments” to talk about sexual abuse.
•Be proactive. If a child seems uncomfortable, or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why.
Sadly, child sexual abuse is all too common in Jackson County.
We can’t protect everyone, but everyone can protect someone.

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