Talk about it.
Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.
Understand why children are afraid to “tell.”
◆ The abuser shames the child, points out that the child let it happen, or tells the child that his or her parents will be angry.
◆ The abuser is often manipulative and may try to confuse the child about what is right and wrong.
◆ The abuser sometimes threatens the child or a family member.
◆ Some children who do not initially disclose abuse are ashamed to tell when it happens again.
◆ Children are afraid of disappointing their parents and disrupting the family.
◆ Some children are too young to understand.
◆ Many abusers tell children the abuse is “okay” or a “game.”
“My daughter tells me everything. I know she would tell me if someone molested her.”
Know how children communicate.
◆ Children who disclose sexual abuse often tell a trusted adult other than a parent. For this reason, training for people who work with children is especially important.
◆ Children may tell “parts” of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to gauge adult reaction.
◆ Children will often “shut down” and refuse to tell more if you respond emotionally or negatively.
Talk openly with children.
Good communication may decrease a child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse and increase the likelihood that the child will tell you if abuse has occurred.
◆ Teach your children about their bodies, about what abuse is, and, when age-appropriate, about sex. Teach them words that help them discuss sex comfortably with you.
◆ Model caring for your own body, and teach children how to care for theirs.
◆ Teach children that it is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them and use examples. Teach them what parts of their bodies others should not touch.
◆ Be sure to mention that the abuser might be an adult friend, family member, or older youth.
◆ Teach children not to give out their email addresses, home addresses, or phone numbers while using the Internet.
◆ Start early and talk often. Use everyday opportunities to talk about sexual abuse.
◆ Be proactive. If a child seems uncomfortable, or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why.
◆ Teach children that it is your responsibility to protect them from sexual abuse.
◆ Teach children you can only protect them if they tell you when something is wrong.
◆ Listen quietly. Children have a hard time telling parents about troubling events.
Talk to other adults about child sexual abuse.
◆ Support and mutual learning occur when you share with another adult.
◆ You raise the consciousness of your community and influence their choices about child safety.
◆ You may be offering support and information to an adult whose child is experiencing abuse, and may not know what to do.
◆ You put potential abusers on notice that you are paying attention.
taken from darkness2light.org