Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse: The Role of Parents

Being a parent is perhaps the most challenging role anyone must play as an adult. Having children is coupled with the responsibility of protecting and taking care of them. Though parenting is the toughest job out there, it is also the area where one gets the least expertise.

What makes it particularly challenging is the fact that society looks forward to entrusting every child's safety and protection to the parents. Thus, they should know first-hand how to deal with any kind of child problems and issues, including sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse has been around for almost a century. Every year, there are an increasing number of cases involving children who are sexually abused, exploited, neglected, or molested. In reality, the world around us is full of people such as sex offenders, pedophiles, and predators that prey on the innocence and vulnerability of minors in order to carry out their crimes.

As history and the millions of convictions tell us, there is no stopping for these child sexual abuse offenses. However, it doesn't mean also that we just sit there and wait until our very own child is victimized. As parents, we play a very crucial role in the prevention of sexual abuse. But how do we do it?

The initial and most important step in preventing this crime is educating every parent about the real face of the problem. Education means awareness and realization. Before you can commit to protecting your own children, you must first absorb and accept the reality that child sexual abuse is an unfortunate event that may involve your own kids. We are all aware how committed we are in ensuring the safety and well-being of our children. Therefore, every parent must be able to willingly learn and be educated about the true nature of child sexual abuse.

The next role parents must play in child abuse prevention is realized by means of taking actions. These actions involve providing their kids knowledge about the abuse and teaching them some precautionary measures in order to keep them away from any potential harm.

1. Limit the child's level of vulnerability - kids and minors are very prone to abuse simply because they are taught to follow and obey orders coming from an adult. So whenever someone older tells them to do something even though it's against their will, they are forced to do so because of the notion that they should obey and follow what older people say.

In order to counteract this mentality, you can stress out to your kids the importance of telling and expressing what they think and feel about anything. Let them realize that you are there to hear them out whenever they feel that an adult is forcing them to do something they wouldn't do otherwise. Whenever there is discomfort at the company of someone else, your kids will tell you about it and you can intervene in time, before any further abuse is carried out.

2. Determining the period of appropriate conversation and learning - there will always come a time when your children start to ask questions about sensitive issues including sex. You cannot avoid this from happening so the American Academy of Pediatrics has laid out the following moments when you can start opening up:

1 and 1/2 to 3 years old - at this age, most kids begin to be curious about their body parts, and you can start teaching them the names of each.

More than 3 up to 5 years old - this is the period where they can fully understand the function of private parts. At the same time, you might want to remind them to tell you whenever someone touches them and makes them feel uneasy and uncomfortable.

6 to 8 years - teach them how to determine a good touch from a malicious and bad one. 8 to 12 years old - when your child reaches this age range, you may begin focusing on teaching him/her on personal safety reminders.

Teenage years - when children become teenagers, they now have the ability to rationally distinguish good from bad. This means that you can start telling them about the consequences of sexual issues such as premarital sex, rape, STDs and HIV, and early and unwanted pregnancy.

3. Monitoring - one of the main problems parents face in taking care of their children is the lack of time to monitor them. This is also the reason why most children are victimized by sex offenders - they simply do not have someone who can look out for them. As parent, your main concern should be putting enough time and effort in monitoring your kid's activities. If you are there to watch them, you will be the first one to know and identify if someone is trying to lure them out for a potential abuse.

To conclude, there are so many things a parent can do in order to prevent child sexual abuse. In fact, it is their inaction that leads to the initiation of these crimes. With preventive measures at hand, sex offenders will always have second thoughts on victimizing your child.

A child sexually abused is a child in need of healing. You can learn the importance of believing and supporting victims and how to prevent the problem at Child Refuge. We especially desire to stop sexual molesters from ruining the faith of so many in the Christian church.

Image Credits: photostock /

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