7 Steps to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is can be defined as the following:

  • A crime punishable by law
  • An agonizing and traumatic experience for its victims that can have life-long impacts
  • Any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other
  • Forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. This includes sexual contact. It also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism and communicating in a sexual manner by phone, Internet, and texting

Proactive Steps to Protect Children

Child sexual abuse is a very complex problem. The information provided is not a substitute for the advice of professionals. It is only to give you simple, proactive steps to help protect children:

  1. Realities, not trust, should influence your decisions regarding your child.
  2. If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you'll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for your child.
  3. Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.
  4. Don't expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused.
  5. Learn where to go, who to call, and how to react.
  6. The future well-being of a child is at stake.
  7. Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight the tragedy of child sexual abuse.

Parents Role

A child's safety is an adult's job. Children are often taught how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse - and that's important for them to learn - but it's no substitute for adult responsibility. We make sure children wear seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We store toxic household cleaners out of reach. Why leave the job of preventing child sexual abuse to children?

While there are wonderful supports and mentors that our kids are introduced to, a parent or caregiver can not relinquish their role to other adults including coaches, teachers, clergy, and other parents. A large percentage of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the family and child. These adults have the opportunity to "groom" children with affection and attention, making it difficult for children to identify certain behaviors as abuse so educate your child, educate yourself and keep the lines of communication open.