But not talking to our kids about appropriate vs. Learn how and when to talk to your children about sexual abuse, and how to handle suspected abuse. The abuse would continue for three years.
I hid it from everyone and blamed myself for what happened, as children do. But if I had been able to talk to someone, I know I would have gotten help. Experts say that today there is plenty of available language to use with children to help keep them safe from sexual abuse.
That decision can make more vulnerable to a sexual predator, says Jill Starishevskyabuse and sex crimes prosecutor in New York City.
Parents may not realize how prevalent child sexual abuse has become. According to the Centers for Disease Control1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by age In only 10 percent of these cases is the abuser a stranger, says Mary L. Pulido, Ph. Instead, 90 percent of the time the abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows, and in those cases, 40 percent are a relative and 50 percent are a trusted family friend. That is why experts believe that conversations with your child are so important. The key is to keep the conversation developmentally appropriate.
What to say
Talking about these issues makes children more comfortable coming to a parent if they do have a problem. Fagin adds that the summer—when children tend to have more freedom and are around other adults in different situations than during the school year—is a perfect time to start the conversation and continue it over the years. Start as soon as your child is developmentally ready to listen.
Pulido says that the average age of abuse is 8 to 9, so speak with your children before they reach that vulnerable age—Starishevsky recommends as early as age 3. Frame the discussion around safety rather than abuse, suggests Dr. Pulido, much as you would talk to them about crossing the street and not touching a hot stove.
And take advantage of teachable moments, like if your child has overheard a related story in the news. The general rule, Fagin says, is to tell your child that anything covered by a bathing suit is considered private.
Pulido says. Pulido suggests making a list with your child of who he would tell. Nicholas Strouse, LCSW, director and clinician at Westport Family Counseling in Connecticut, says that the most important thing parents can do to keep their children safe is to validate their feelings so they trust their own instincts.
Dear concerned parent,
Identifying if an adult acted inappropriately with your child can be a nuanced situation. He adds that while none of these symptoms automatically al that is being abused, they are warning s on which you should follow up.
Children disclose in increments. They test the waters.
If they say an uncle touched their knee and you get upset, they may not tell you more. If you believe your child has been sexually abused, Dr. Pulido says you must act.
What is sexual battery?
If the perpetrator is a parent or caretaker, call the child abuse hotline: in New York, ; New Jersey, ; and Connecticut, Resources in the New York metro area for victims of sexual abuse. Downtown Nyack Oct. Author: Liza N. Burby is contributing publisher of "Long Island Parent" magazine. Home Health Articles. More Health Articles:. Latest News:.
How to handle suspected abuse
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