This article originally appeared on Protect Young Minds.
It seems like the number of things you need to talk to your children about in order to keep them safe just keeps growing! One issue that should be at the top of your list is protecting kids from sexual abuse.
By talking to your kids about personal safety, they will be more prepared to stay safe and get help when needed.
The link between pornography and child sexual abuse
Unfortunately, pornography fuels sexual abuse.
Protecting kids from child sexual abuse includes teaching them what pornography is and what to do if they see it. This not only helps prevent them from becoming a victim of non-physical sexual abuse (such as being shown pornography), but also potentially from becoming an abuser themselves. An estimated 23 percent of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by children.
Here’s an example of what can happen: A child sees pornography without any idea of what is normal and not normal sexual activity. Not understanding that what they see is harmful, they act these scenes out on other children.
Sometimes adults are motivated by pornography to abuse others, including children. Adult abusers will often show pornography to children to groom them for further abuse. According to Defend Innocence, perpetrators will test boundaries and “see how a child reacts when privacy is violated.” Pornography is a tool they use to see how a child responds. The child’s reaction could mean the difference between safety (the abuser backs off) and extreme danger (the abuser feels like the child can be manipulated).
What’s the problem with the idea of “stranger danger”?
It was drilled into every ’80s kid’s mind: “Don’t take candy from a stranger.” For decades the message was so focused on strangers, that we failed to warn children that sometimes people we know and trust turn out to be dangerous too.
Are strangers the main danger? Statistics tell us NO. The National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) reveals that in 90 percent of sexual abuse cases, victims know their abuser.
Sixty percent of perpetrators are not family members, but someone the child knows: a babysitter, a babysitter’s boyfriend (whom you didn’t know was at your home), an older sibling at a friend’s sleepover, or a long-time family friend. Sexual abuse happens during playdates behind closed doors and in bathrooms at school. Yes, elementary school.
Surely we can trust our children with members of our family? The NSOPW reports that 30 percent of perpetrators of sexual abuse crimes are family members. It’s hard to swallow, isn’t it? A mistake we make as parents and adults is trusting people just because they’re family.
Here’s what you can do to protect kids from sexual abuse
You might be thinking to yourself, I’m never leaving my children alone again. Don’t worry, there’s hope. You can become an educated and proactive parent who does everything in their power to protect children from sexual abuse.