#1 thing parents get wrong about child safety: It will never happen to MY child!
Faced with the horror of child sexual abuse, most people would rather live in denial than confront the reality of someone harming a child. For most parents, the pull towards this denial can be even stronger. While for most parents child safety is an important concern, holding on to the idea that their child will never be abused offers comfort.
But child sexual abuse is sadly a reality with devastating consequences.
“(I thought) the problem must be me … I was wrong,” said Rachael Denhollander who was the first woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar, the former USA gymnastics doctor, of sexual abuse. 156 women came forward with allegations that have led to a possible 175 year sentence for Nassar. The breadth of Nassar’s crimes over decades have horrified the world. It is difficult to read the testimonies of Denhollander and the other victims as they talk about how as children they tried to grapple with the abuse. It is heartbreaking to learn of the devastation and trauma of the victims, especially in the light of knowing that their abuse could have been prevented if someone had paid attention to the situation sooner.
What allows serial predators like Nassar to continue to harm children? And what can be done to put a stop it?
The most important tool in preventing child sexual abuse is to open channels of communication with both children and adults. Awareness is power and fulfils two benefits. First it removes the trace of any guilt or shame in a child. And among adults it creates a shared sense of community.
Several tools exist which can help communicating the message of child safety. This simple video can help you educate yourself and other adults in your social circles about the importance of teaching child safety and the role each of us has to play in ensuring child safety.
The next task is to teach your child about child safety. Here again you can use easy tools like this child safety video for children. Watch the video for yourself before showing it to your child so you may answer any questions they may have regarding the video. You can then talk through hypothetical situations with them to see if they have understood the lessons in the video. This child safety video is comprehensive while at the same time being suitable for children as young as 4 and 5 years old. Child safety cannot be a one-time lesson. It must be repeated, especially with younger children.
Opening channels of communication on a topic as sensitive as child sexual abuse is difficult. But it is crucial for each of us to become aware and thus become part of the solution.