1. Children are seldom victims of sexual abuse
Children are victims of sexual abuse far more than we realise. Children who are soft-spoken by nature, those who are told to “speak when you are spoken to”, the shy introvert type of child is usually a soft target for the sexual predator. These are the children who would keep quiet if threatened (the predator usually threatens to punish them if they tell). Children are easily bribed – fancy clothes, sweets, jewellery – just depends on the age of the child.
2. This kind of thing does not happen where we live
Sexual abuse happens everywhere – it is not specific to one area. Children are either abused in their own homes or in homes where they feel comfortable, in surroundings familiar to them (an uncle/aunt’s house, grandparents house etc)
3. We don’t let our children go near strangers
Children are seldom abused by strangers. The abuser is usually known to the child. It could be the parent of the opposite sex, grandparent, aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, brother or sister. Warning children to stay away from strangers gives them a false sense of security because it is often those they trust to protect them, who are the ones who abuse them.
4. My child is not old enough for this discussion
Children as young as a few weeks are being sexually abused by fathers, grandfathers, mother’s boyfriends etc. As soon as a child can understand (in an age appropriate way), we should explain acceptable behaviour and what is not acceptable between adult and child.
5. I don’t want to scare my child
Experiencing sexual abuse is far more scary to a child than being informed of what it is. When a child (irrespective of age) is touched in an inappropriate manner, the child instinctively knows what is being done is wrong, but does not know why it is wrong and feels helpless/powerless to do something about it.
6. I would know if something happened to my child
Really? Would you really know if something happened to your child? Abusers are usually very careful not to leave physical evidence of abuse except when it comes to sexual abuse, the damage is usually internal which is easier to hid unless you, as the parent, know the warning signs to watch out for. How observant are you? Will you notice when your child starts crying for no reason? Will you notice when your child is not sitting or walking like they did before?
7. My child would tell me if something happened to him/her
How sure are you that your child would tell you? Would you believe him/her? Would you blame the child? Does your child know that he/she can come to you and that he/she will be believed and taken seriously?
8. We never leave our child alone with adults
Really? So you never leave your child at your parents or parents-in-law’s place while you go out? You never leave the child with a relative? A neighbour? A friend? A babysitter? School teacher?
9. I don’t want to put thoughts in his/her head
Children cannot and will not lie about something they have never experienced first hand. A child who has never been exposed to sex or any sexual acts will never be able to lie about something like that so you will never put thoughts into their head. As an adult, you should be able to tell the difference between make-believe and the truth. You will know . . . deep down in your gut.
10. It’s not going to happen to my child
Can you be absolutely 100 percent sure that this will never happen to your child? How can you be so sure? Can you be with your child 24/7 for 365 days per year?
Never be afraid to ask for help! Better to be safe than sorry.
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