April is sexual assault awareness and prevention month. No one wants to think of their child being targeted or hurt by a sexual predator, but unfortunately that very thing happens to 60,000 children every year in the United States. Sexual abuse is more common than many people realize, with a sexual assault being perpetrated once every 98 seconds. It’s important, with statistics like that to know how to protect your children. And it’s important to continue to support organizations like the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) by donating your vehicle to help them teach more people how to protect themselves and their families.
Sexual abuse happens in all demographics of our society, regardless of race, religion, and economic status. There is no one element that will keep your child safe 100%, but there are some habits and skills you can develop that can help reduce the risks for your kids.
1. Be involved
Parents who are interested in the lives of their kids, know what they are doing, who they are with, and what their interests are, are more likely to recognize the warning signs of sexual abuse and changes to schedule that may indicate your child is being targeted by a sexual predator.
2. Know Who Your Child Associates With
Make a point to know who your child’s friends are. Get to know their parents, their coaches, their teachers, and family members. You don’t need to control every interaction, but being aware of who they are spending time with and watching their behavior when they are with those people, can give you an idea of what they are experiencing and help you see patterns of behavior that may be of concern.
3. Be Careful About Caregivers
No vetting process is 100% secure, but do your homework when choosing a daycare, nanny, or babysitter. Don’t assume that the cousin, friend, or child of a friend is safe simply by association. Interview and get to know the people you are entrusting your child with.
4. Encourage Communication
Engage your child in conversation about what they see in the media, hear at school, or learn at other community events. Address their concerns, let them express their feelings. How sexual violence is portrayed and discussed in these areas can have a big impact on a child’s perception of what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Clear communication is important.
It is also essential that a child knows that sexual abuse does not make them a bad person. Often a predator will use shame to keep a child from seeking help. Make sure that your child knows that being a victim is nothing to be ashamed of.
5. Teach Boundaries
Teach your children to create and to respect boundaries for their body. They have a right to set the limits for what is appropriate. Be willing to talk about concerns they have with boundaries and ways to express themselves to others.
6. Make Yourself Available
Developing a relationship of trust with your children takes time and effort, make sure you schedule time to talk to them even when there are no problems on the horizon. Let your children know that they can always come to you with concerns, problems, and fears.
Keeping your children safe is an important job for every parent, knowing how makes your job easier. RAINN wants to ensure that you have what you need to help your children enjoy a fear free childhood. donate your car to help RAINN in this important endeavor.