Did you know that 98% of child abuse victims know their alleged perpetrator?*
For many of us, this is a hard truth to comprehend. When I was young, I thought strangers were the only people that might harm me in any way. Of course, I didn’t think about the danger of being harmed much either, but my perception of where danger might lurk mainly originated with unfamiliar places and unfamiliar faces.
Unfortunately, the data shows that this is not the case, and if we are going to be vigilant about protecting our children, it is a truth we have to be mindful of and take steps to address.
Protecting children starts at home. If you are a parent or caregiver of a child, it is important that you take steps early on to help educate them to what appropriate touch and interaction is and is not.
Here are some ways that you can do this:
Teach your child appropriate names for body parts and refrain from using slang terms or pet names.
Develop healthy and open communication with your child so he/she will be more likely to let you know if anyone has interacted with him/her in a way that made them feel uncomfortable.
Help your child to develop healthy boundaries and an understanding that it is okay for them to say no to unwanted affection, even if the affection is coming from family members.
Model these types of behaviors and interactions by setting boundaries yourself and respecting the boundaries of others.
The month of April is designated as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Abuse comes in many forms — physical, verbal, emotional and sexual. All forms of abuse are intolerable. As adults, parents, ministry leaders and anyone who interacts with students and children, it is vitally important to be aware of the signs of abuse and how to report.
You may know that Texas Baptists partners with MinistrySafe to offer abuse prevention training via webinars at no cost to you. We also have a Sexual Abuse Response webpage that has information on protecting, reporting and caring for abuse survivors. I encourage you to take advantage of these resources and familiarize yourself with them before you are put in a situation to need them.
In addition, MinistrySafe is offering free access during the month of April to a Parent Training that helps parents and caregivers better understand how to create an atmosphere of abuse prevention at home. They also offer a video conversation between mom and daughter on the topic of what it was like growing up in a home where conversations and education on the topic of abuse were cultivated and encouraged.