The world is a scary place, and it seems like every time you turn on the news, you hear about a child who has been sexually abused. Short of keeping your child a prisoner in your home, you can’t completely protect your child from a predator, but according to an experienced child molestation lawyer, there are five steps you can take to prevent child sexual abuse as much as possible.
By being actively involved in your child’s life, you get to know them so well that you’ll be more likely to detect if something is wrong. You’ll be more in tune with the signs of sexual abuse because your child’s behavior will be different from what you know.
Talk about your child’s day with them, asking questions about what they did, where they went, who they sat with at lunch, and more. Get to know their friends and any adults they interact with during the day, including teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents.
Choose Caregivers Carefully
Whether you’re leaving your child with a babysitter, a childcare facility, a school, or another person or entity, be sure to screen the people who will be interacting with your child. There are various background check services that can help you with this, but you should also talk to other parents about their own interactions with these people to get a better idea of their behaviors.
Know the Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse
Children will let you know through their behavior if they have been sexually abused, but unless you’re familiar with the warning signs of sexual abuse, you could miss them. Physically, there may be bruising, bleeding, or swelling in the genital area; frequent urinary or yeast infections; pain, burning, or itching in the genital area; or bloody or stained clothing.
Behaviorally, your child may suddenly refuse to bathe or become obsessed with bathing; develop phobias, express suicidal thoughts, begin having trouble in school, begin having nightmares, regress to childlike behaviors (like thumb-sucking or bed-wetting), run away from home, self-harm, express inappropriate sexual behaviors or knowledge, or shrink away from physical contact.
As early as possible, teach your child that no one should touch them in any way that makes them feel uncomfortable. This includes hugs from and tickling by family members. Your child should understand that their body is their own and that they should not touch other people without their permission either.
Teach Your Child to Speak Up
Often, child sexual abuse goes on for a significant amount of time because the child is too scared to speak up. Let your child know that they are not going to be in trouble if they talk to you about anything that is making them uncomfortable. If they appear to have something on their mind, ask them open-ended questions like “is there anything you want to talk about” to encourage them to open up.
No one wants to think about their children getting molested, but it’s an unfortunate reality that parents must address head-on. These steps will help you protect your child from sexual abuse, so the sooner you implement them in your family, the better off your child will be.