Thursday, February 23, 2006

Preventing Sexual Abuse - A Public Service Message


Most of the material on this blog is useless. I know it. You know it. I write it, you read it, and we both move on. But today I am going to write about sexual abuse.

I have come across a number of blogs over the past few days that are dealing with sexual abuse. The Unorthodox Jews are in the middle of trying to get a yeshiva to fire a rebbi who has been abusing boys for the past thrity years. And Dave had a great post about how the orthodox community has been looking the other way when it comes to sexual predators. Angry Soul has an entire blog talking about his experience being sexually abused over a seven year period. According to Angry Soul, his abuser, a counselor in camp, admitted to abusing over 100 kids during his teenage years.

There are other blogs I have seen talking about sexual abuse, but I haven't seen anyone talking about how to protect your kids from being abused.

As many of you know, I am not a therapist. I have never been sexually abused, and while I do know peple who have been abused, I have never had a discussion about that aspect of their lives with them.

Still, I am a parent, with three kids to protect, and many of you are parents as well, with kids who need to be protected.

Statistically, in the US, something like 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused in some manner at some point in their lives, which means it a pretty prevelent problem, and not one that as a parent you can afford to ignore.

I have a client, the Self Esteem Shop, which specializes in mental health books. They have an extensive section on sexual abuse, both in terms of prevention and recovery, for children of all ages, and for adults as well. I write their catalogs, and as their copywriter, I have flipped through many of these books, and read quite a few of the kids books from cover to cover.

This comes from the Child Advocacy Center.

Protecting your child from sexual abuse:

Let your child know that he or she can tell you anything and you will always be supportive.

Teach your child that no one, not even a teacher or a close relative, has the right to touch him or her in a way that feels uncomfortable. Teach your child that it is OK to say, "No, get away," and to tell a trusted adult about the incident.

Don't force kids to kiss, hug or sit on a grown-up's lap if they don't want to. This gives them control and teaches them that they have the right to refuse.

Always know where your child is and whom he or she is with.

Tell your child to stay away from strangers who hang around playgrounds, public restrooms and schools.

Be alert for changes in your child's behavior that could signal sexual abuse, such as sudden secretiveness, withdrawal from activities, refusal to go to school, unexplained hostility toward a favorite baby-sitter or relative, or increased anxiety. Some physical signs of abuse include bedwetting, loss of appetite, venereal disease, nightmares and complaints of pain or irritation around the genitals or anus.

If your child has been sexually abused, report it to the police or a child protection agency immediately.

If your child is a victim of sexual abuse, don't blame him or her. Listen and provide safety.

You can talk to your children about sexual abuse without ever using the term "Sexual Abuse." Use phrases like safe touches, and make sure to tell kids that they can always come to you to talk.

As I mentioned above, I write catalogs for the Self Esteem Shop, and here are a few titles I have read through. The prices are the current prices at the Self Esteem Shop's web site, selfesteemshop.com

Preschool Age

Always Be Careful - This safety manual teaches preschool age children (ages 3-5) the ABC's of good and bad touches and personal safety. $3

Andy/Annie - These books, were written for young children. Andy/Annie is confused when a person she knows touches her private parts. Issues include feeling alone, disclosure, and changes in character. Andy is for boys, Annie is for girls. $2.50

It's My Body - A book to teach young children how to resist uncomfortable touch. $5.95

Grade School

My Body is Private - This book teaches kids that their body is their own personal space, and no one should touch them without their permission. $5.95

Sam Speaks Out - When Sam is inappropriately touched by a neighbor, it makes him feel sad and act out. He tells a friend, and she helps him find someone who can help him with his problem. Soon, Sam is back to his old self. 4.95

A Very Touching Book - Using humor, children learn about their body parts as well as privacy, their private parts, and the difference between good and bad touches, including what to do in case of a bad touch. 12.95

Red Flag Green Flag People - This personal safety manual teaches early elementary age children the difference between good and bad touches, and teaches what to do in the event of a bad touch. Facilitators guide available. Appropriate for children ages 4-10. For some reason this book is not on their web site. It is the follow up
book to Always Be Careful, which I mentioned in the preschool section.

For Parents -

Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse - Janie Hart-Rossi shows parents how to protect their children from sexual abuse. She begins with the facts on sexual abuse, an eye opening experience for many parents. She then offers some key phrases for children, so they can resist uncomfortable touches, and gives specific activities so you can reduce the likelihood of your child ever getting molested. Companion to It's My Body. 7.95

posted by Air Time