Sexual Abuse and Abductions

 

A subject that none of us wants to ever address with our children is how to teach them to be safe from sexual abuse and abductions.  With sexual abuse and child abductions on the rise, they just may be topics that we all need to start thinking about, so our children know how to avoid these types of situations.

Did you know that according to the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), they estimate that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls under the age of 18 are sexually abused.  Of those children that are abused, 10% of the perpetrators were strangers to the patient and 23% of the perpetrators were children themselves according to the US Department of Justice.

So how do  you as a parent know where to begin to educate your child.  The following are 10 ways to teach your child the skills to prevent sexual abuse.

  1. Talk about body parts early.  Use the appropriate terminology that way if there is any question of sexual abuse taking place a child’s response can be clearly understood.  For instance, you don’t want your child to say “bottom” when they actually mean “vagina”.
  2. Teach you child that body parts are private.  Explain to your child that clothes should always remain over their private parts .  The only people that can see these areas without clothes on are mommy and daddy.  Let your child know that their doctor sometimes may have to look at these areas too, but only when mommy and daddy are present.
  3. Teach your child body boundaries.  Let your child know that it is never okay for them to be touched in these areas nor is it ok for them to touch anyone else in these areas.  Often the second part of that statement is forgotten.  Sexual abuse sometimes begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else in those “off limits” area.
  4. Tell your child that body secrets are not ok.  Often perpetrators tell the child that it is a secret and if they tell anyone of the secret “they won’t play with you anymore” or they will get the child in trouble by telling them “that it was your idea and you will get into big trouble!”. 
  5. Tell your child that no one should take pictures of their private parts.  With a technology advanced world, we often forget to tell our children that taking inappropriate pictures is a big no, no!  Perpetrators love to take pictures of children naked and then trade pictures with other perpetrators online.
  6. Teach your child how to get out of a scary or uncomfortable situation.  Children often have a hard time telling people “no”, especially adults.  Let them know that it is ok to tell an adult “no” especially when it involves inappropriate actions.  And if that doesn’t work, have them use the excuse that they need to leave to go potty.  At that time, they need to go seek out an adult to help them.
  7. Have a code word your child can use when they feel that they are in an unsafe environment and want to be picked up.
  8. Tell your child they will never be in trouble for telling you a body secret.  Let them know that no matter how bad they think something is, that it is always better to tell the truth and that they will NEVER get in trouble for telling you a body secret.
  9. Tell your child that a body touch might tickle or feel good.  As parents we always use the phrase “good touch and bad touch”, but this can sometimes lead to confusion because not all these inappropriate touches don’t feel bad.  Instead try to use the term “secret touch” as it is a more accurate depiction of what might happen.
  10. Finally, tell your child that these rules listed above apply to both people they know and other children.  Unfortunately, it is not always strangers that attack our children, but people that the family or children know.

What should you teach your child about child abduction.  Let them know that it is a rare thing that could happen, but that they should always be careful and alert of their surroundings.  Here are a few things you can teach your child to help keep them safe.

  1. Never walk away with someone you don’t know.  Your child should either leave with a parent of the designated person that was to take care of them that day.
  2.  Remind your child that an adult does not need help from a child to find a puppy or anything else.  This is a top warning sign that this means trouble.
  3. Never get into a car with a stranger. 
  4. Teach your child right from wrong and that they should never let others take advantage of them.

If your child does find themselves in an abduction situation here are a few survival tips for them.

  1. The Velcro technique – “make like Velcro:  grab and hold onto something and do not let go.”  They can be objects like street signs, a tree or even another adult, because often another adult is not usually involved in an abduction.
  2. Yell as loud as you can “Stop Stranger!”  Anyone other than mom and dad should be classified as a stranger if they are trying to take you away.
  3. Use the windmill or swimming technique.  By a child moving their arms in a circular motion makes it hard for the abductor to grab ahold of them.
  4. Make a lot of noise.  Tell your child to yell, scream, bang on something, blow a whistle (give your child a whistle necklace) anything to make a big scene usually scares the abductor away.

How can your child escape from a car safely?  Typically, a child is never hurt right away.  There often is a 3-hour window for a child to escape.

  1. Get out of the car right away.
  2. Tell your child they can jump in the back seat and open the door quickly to get out.
  3. If your child is put in a trunk, teach them where the panel is at in the trunk and have them pull the wires out that lead to the tail-lights and brakes.  The abductor will have a higher chance of getting pulled over by a cop.

 

Safety tips on preventing abductions for parents.

  1. Always know where your child is at and with whom.
  2. Pay attention to any behavior changes in your child.
  3. Never leave your child alone in public.
  4.  Never ask a stranger to watch or hold your child.
  5. Always have your child use the buddy system.
  6. Teach your child your phone number or how to contact a close friend.
  7. Pay attention to threats.
  8. If it is a custody battle, make sure you get social security numbers, addresses and credit card numbers.
  9. Keep on file all dental and medical records.
  10. If you live in town, hold a neighborhood meeting.  Teach the children in your community which houses are safe.
  11. Have a secret word that you use with your child.  They can only open a door or a window when they hear that secret word.
  12. Teach older children to be suspicious of slow moving vehicles that keep circling a neighborhood or playground area.

All the tools given above are not to scare you and your family, but topics of conversation that you should have with your children.  By making our children aware of these matters just might help them stay out of harm’s way.