With children being so naive, curious and greedy, you have to be very careful who they come in contact with and you definitely have to keep a closer eye on everybody that surrounds them especially if you don’t quite know those people on a personal level. Child abuse is something that has been buried under the mat for so long and people were so ashamed to talk about it as if it was the children’s fault or in order to not upset someone or simply because it was a shameful subject never to be spoken of. However, lately, abuse of any kind (but especially the sexual one) is becoming more and more addressed, either by adults in general (like the #MeToo movement in showbusiness), either by parents whose children went through hard times in terms of it. It can get scary when you see so many news about this subject and you might think that it is more poplar than ever, but the truth is that this issue is as common as ever, it is just more publicised than it used to be in the past. Still, this shouldn’t stop you from taking precaution measures because it is important to keep your child safe just in case.
Now, you should know that child abuse does not only have an effect on them right when it happens, but it can scar them for life, especially if you don’t acknowledge it or don’t do something about it. Besides the mental health issues, like depression, anxiety and so on, the child can also suffer from physical health problems by somatising all the emotional luggage they carry. It can be shameful and awkward to have a talk with your child about this subject, but it is better to set their guard up than to just leave them be and exposing them to all kinds of dangers by not talking about it and informing them of their existence. In order to avoid having to deal with such a heavy burden of having your child abused, there are some thing you can do.
Talk to Your Kid
Up to a certain age, children don’t quite know what qualifies and normal and fine and what doesn’t, so talking to them about boundaries ca save them from a lot of trouble. When it comes to sex abuse, teach them about when and how to say “no” if they don’t feel comfortable with someone touching them, even if that person is you or other members of the family and the intentions are pure. In addition, it is important to acknowledge and respect those certain refusals when they occur, even if it is hard not to be able to show affection (like kisses, hugs and so on), and teach them that if people do not respect that it is not ok. They should be aware of the fact that their bodies are theirs and only they have a say in what happens, especially regarding strangers. Also let them know the stranger-danger rule, even though it is not necessarily the only case.
Beware of the Time and Spatial Coordinates
The general belief is that child abusers only lurk around playgrounds or schools and attract kids with candy or that it can only happen at night, but that is actually not entirely true. Most of the abuse happens in plain day and not necessarily outside the house. Statistics show that more that 75% of the abuse cases happen in the home where the child lives or in the home of the abusers, while they are supposed to watch the kids for the time when parents are at work. These offenders can be literally anyone and this is why it is important to have that talk with your child so they can tell you when something is wrong.
Search for Registries and Do a Background Check
When you move to a new neighbourhood, you should check the child abuser registries, so you can avoid them. However, this can’t be a guarantee that they are the only real dangers for your child. Most of the time, registered abusers are on parole or under a tight and strict supervision from the police in that area and they usually try to behave since they don’t want to spend the rest of their days in prison. The real danger is represented by the ones that are not yet registered, so you should keep an eye on whoever doesn’t seem trustworthy.
Also, when you hire a babysitter or a nanny you have the possibility of doing a background check. You can read reviews (if you hire them through an agency), ask other moms about their experience with those people or track them on the internet by doing a people search on social media, for example.
Keep a Close Eye On Your Child’s Online Activity
You should install or set the children restrictions on any device in your house that has access to internet because this way you will have more certainty when it comes to your child surfing online. However, this does not totally guarantee that they won’t end up on shady websites or that social media will be safe for them, so you should also have their passwords just to check from time to time and also tell them not to reveal any personal information. Educate them on the fact that the internet is not a safe place and that behind any account there could be a different person from the one that is displayed. If they don’t know that person in reality and don’t have the certainty and confidence that is the real person behind the account, they should now engage in any conversation and release information linked to their location, age or anything else that can put them in danger. Children should know that strangers are threatening not only in real life but on the internet and social media as well and you may consider that having their passwords may be a little intrusive and privacy violating, but this will help you keep track with what they do online, who they talk to and what websites they access.