Child sexual abuse. How do you know if your child is at risk?
According to the American Psychological Association, (APA) children and adolescents, regardless of their race, culture, or economic status, appear to be at approximately equal risk for sexual victimization.
Statistics show that girls are sexually abused more often than boys are; but that may be because of a suspected tendency among boys and men to not report an incident.
Who is most likely to be an abuser? The majority of sexual offenders are not strangers to the child; rather, they are more likely to be family members or other adults who are otherwise known to the child.
Preventing the likelihood of child sexual abuse in any community takes education and awareness, says Darkness to Light, a national non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse through public education and awareness.
Darkness to Light has developed a prevention training program for adults, Stewards of Children, that attempts to change beliefs, actions and attitudes towards child sexual abuse, and offers simple strategies for protecting children.
Because it is ultimately the responsibility of adults to make sure children are safe, training programs like Stewards of Children can help to make sure everyone in a community is educated on the potential signs of abuse and the shared responsibility of protecting children.
Adults bear the burden of stepping up and speaking out when something doesn’t look or feel right with respect to the well being of a child.
Not just one’s own children. ANY child.
Phoenix Children’s Hospital will host a FREE Stewards of Children three hour workshop on Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Rosenberg Medical Plaza, Cohen Conference Center, 1920 E. Cambridge Road, located on the PCH main campus.
Participants are strongly encouraged to register by January 5th, 2012.
Parents, youth sports organizations, coaches, camp counselors, youth service organizations, teachers, school personnel and faith centers are encouraged to attend.
The hope is to inspire individuals to take personal responsibility in preventing child sexual abuse by presenting facts.
For example, did you know that…
- the median age for reported sexual abuse is age nine?
- that people who abuse children often look and act just like everyone else, and often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children?
- that most child victims never report the abuse?
The typical advice “Don’t Talk to Strangers” doesn’t apply in this case, says the APA. Most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims.
Teach children at an early age to express affection to others on their own terms. Do not instruct children to give relatives hugs and kisses. Teach your children basic sexual education, says the APA.
And my favorite: Establish good, strong communication skills with children from a very early age by listening attentively to what they have to say. Make sure they know they can come to you and say anything, and that they will be loved…and believed.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix established a Safe Environment Training Office in the wake of child sexual abuse cases in church communities. They offer a comprehensive web listing on local, state and national resources for families, including the steps to take when reporting an abuse in any community in Arizona.