10 Tips Towards Preventing Child Abuse
By Dr. June Stride View more articles
Abuse Proof Your Child
Barely a day goes by that we don’t hear or read a story of a child victimized by some horrendous abuse. We ask if we have done all we can to ‘abuse-proof’ our children. We recognize that easy access to drink and drugs, as well as widespread sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS amplify the risks.
Further, to compound matters, our children ARE maturing earlier and frequently have little adult supervision due to parental work schedules. We hate to admit that too often our children may find themselves in situations that require wisdom and experience beyond their years. Certainly, we resist any notion that our children could be caught in situations that may endanger their physical health and emotional well being for the remainder of their lives.
FYI: Snyder & Sickmund, (1999) reported that approximately 8 million kids are left unsupervised after school daily. According to the US Department of Education, (2001) the after school unsupervised hours are when most children experiment with alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex and fall prey to abuse.
No, abuse is not a pretty topic. But abuse is a topic for which we need to prepare our children…whether it is seductive abuse by a formerly trusted person, or violent abuse by a relative or by a date, or self-abuse encouraged by peer pressure. Obviously, I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already considered. Obviously, this information is doing nothing to improve your parenting comfort level. So, what’s a parent to do?
Let’s talk about some TIPS that could help prepare you and your children for the challenges ‘out there’. Being pro-active for your child will contribute to the physical and emotional well being of you both.
10 TIPS: Preparing for Challenges
1. First and foremost, work on improving your communication with your child. Build trust by actively listening and showing your deep concern about them. Establish and keep a consistent daily time to talk with them, not ‘at’ them. Include sensitive topics related to sexual challenges: abstinence, STD’s, AIDS, rape, casual sex, intercourse, sexual abuse, drug abuse.
2. . Do not suppose because your child acts as if he/she is well informed about sex and abuse that it is so. When discussing sensitive and frightening topics, maintain a calm, reassuring tone of voice so that your child does not feel a sense of panic.
3. Use the newspaper/TV, all media stories as starting points for discussion. Ask your child how he/she sees the situation, ask him/her what options there might have been or how the person in the story might better have handled the situation.
4. Encourage your child to think about choices and consequences, pleasures and penalties.
5. Gradually increase your child’s decision-making opportunities. Start simple.
6. Use TV shows/movies/CDs/video games as the catalyst for discussing risky behaviors and deadly behaviors. Discuss the image that celebs project and the dangers of some of their messages.
7. Reinforce the notion of respect for self, to include respect of the body, e.g. when is touching good/loving or bad/selfish?
8. Develop an escape plan for your child. List safe places as well as trusted people and phone numbers who can provide immediate help.
9. Reinforce the notion of ‘safety in numbers’ when shopping, walking to school, etc. as well as remaining alert to the surrounding environment for potential danger.
10. Establish an understanding that you (or a designated trusted surrogate) will always be available for ‘rescue’ transportation should the need arise and without a lecture afterward!
In conclusion, think about that old saying, “Better safe than sorry.” Your ‘abuse-proof’ preparations will improve your state of mind and hopefully, make your child’s journey to adult-hood less risky.