This blog post is a departure from my normal articles. It’s not about nonprofit management. It’s not about fundraising.
Despite the departure from my normally chosen subjects and my homage to Monty Python in the headline, this post is still about something quite serious that should concern you.
Every April, I devote one posting to how we all can and must act to prevent child sex abuse. Whether or not you have children, there are things you can and should do.
Did you know that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control?
Did you know that the vast majority of these child victims will be sexually abused by someone they know?
If you have children, here are three things you can do to help keep them safe:
1. Don’t rely on “stranger-danger.” Teaching children to avoid strangers or never to talk to a stranger will do little to keep them safe from sexual predators. Child sex abuse is a crime of opportunity. That’s why the vast majority of child sex abuse cases involve someone the child knows (i.e.: a priest, coach, teacher, babysitter, mom’s boyfriend, etc.).
While it is important to teach your children to be cautious with strangers, you should also closely monitor with whom your child has alone-time. You should minimize the number of times your child is alone with only one adult present. I recognize this will be difficult. For example, if you hire a babysitter, that person will have hours alone with your child. But, you can still protect your child by doing a thorough background check and by installing nanny cams in your home.
2. Respect your child’s personal space. Very often, a mom or dad will say something like this to their child: “Go give grandma a hug and kiss.” If the child refuses, the parent or the intended kiss recipient will become increasingly pleading and/or demanding. While perfectly innocent and seemingly harmless, this teaches children a dangerous lesson: Their body is not theirs to control.
Instead, respect your child’s personal boundaries. Let them know it’s okay for them to pick and choose with whom they will have physical contact. Don’t inadvertently send them the message that adults have power over them when it comes to contact. Make sure they understand they can say no to adults.
3. Read these prior posts. I’ve written two other posts about the prevention of child sex abuse: “10 Essential Tips to Protect Children from Real Monsters” and “National Child Abuse Prevention Month: What are You Doing to Help?”
When you read my prior posts, you’ll find more powerful tips as well as the names of organizations you can contact for more information or assistance.