Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse

This post began as a post for Five Minute Friday at katemotaung.com where you write for five minutes on a given prompt.  In this case the prompt word was “protect” and the first thing that sprang to mind was the need to protect children from sexual abuse and to raise awareness of how we can do that.  Initially, as you’ll see, I was slightly reluctant to cover this topic, but as I wrote I became more and more convinced of how important it is that we talk about this, and the positive response confirmed that to me.  I’m sharing it in more places now in the hope that the message reaches more people and that, as a result, more children are better protected.

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Protect…

Well, I’m not sure if I should be going there, but it looks like I am…  This is both the beauty and the hazard of Five Minute Friday– the prompt takes you in directions you didn’t intend to go.

I’m sorry if this makes you uncomfortable.  I know it’s not an easy topic to discuss, but actually I think that’s part of the reason why there’s a problem, and I think that by discussing it and raising awareness we can take steps towards fixing it or at least reducing it.

I’m talking about sexual abuse and the need to protect children.

It’s a massive problem.  It’s impossible to get an accurate figure because so much of it is kept hidden and never disclosed, but it is estimated that around in 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.  That is a huge number of people, and the effects and long-term impact can be devastating.

We need to do more to protect children from this, and there are steps we can take:

Be aware of the danger and the need to protect our children.  Don’t think this is something that only happens to other people.  I don’t mean that we should go around viewing everyone with suspicion, just that we shouldn’t be naive.  There can be a tendency for people to think that abuse only happens in chaotic, dysfunctional families.  The truth is it happens to people in nice, normal, Christian families too.  (The family aren’t always to blame but in over 90% of cases the abuser is someone known to the child and their family.)  It can happen to anyone.

Teach your children about what kinds of touch are appropriate and inappropriate.  Teach them how to talk about their bodies.  Teach them about boundaries and their right to say no.  Teach them the difference between good secrets (e.g. a surprise gift or party) and bad secrets (anything that makes them feel scared or uncomfortable).

Spend time with your children.  Talk with them.  Let them know that they can always talk to you about anything, especially if they are feeling worried or afraid.  When they do talk to you, listen to them and take them seriously.  Let them know that they matter and their feelings matter.

Be aware of the warning signs.  Children don’t always have the words to explain, or they may be too scared to speak out, but there are warning signs that can indicate there is a problem.  The fact sheet linked below gives more information.

The reality is that this is a massive issue, but these simple steps can make a huge difference in preventing it and in protecting children, as this video shows:

And also, as I finish, I want to reassure you that no matter how big the problem and the impact it has, God’s healing power is greater and there is always hope.

Needless to say, I’ve gone over five minutes, but once I started this I wanted to do it properly.  I’ve linked to several resources below that might be helpful if you want to look into this some more.

Resources to understand more about Childhood Sexual Abuse and how to prevent it:
Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet
How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

Resources to help in discussing the topic with children:
The Underwear Rule
Rise And Shine Movement: Ana’s Song (video and discussion questions to use with children)

Resources on help and healing for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse:
Journey To Heal- Crystal Sutherland
NAPAC (National Association For People Abused In Childhood)- UK
RAAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network)- US

            purposefulfaith.com        Holly Barrett

 

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27 thoughts on “Protecting Our Children From Sexual Abuse

  1. This is such an important topic! Knowing how to protect our children is so important. Visiting from Five Minute Fridays. Thank you for the resources. I have three kids and this is something I think about a lot. I will definitely check them out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Barbie. I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this in your family. So painful for everyone, and it happens, despite parents’ best attempts to protect their children. That’s why I think it’s important that we talk about it.

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  2. Thank you for taking on this topic. We can not talk about this issue enough. Many people think I am over the top in my protection of my children. I don’t care. There is no returning innocence once it is stolen. I recently learned a new phrase to use with my girls (preschoolers). “Our family doesn’t keep secrets – we do keep surprises”. We still want them to be able to have the opportunity to surprise someone with a gift and such but we never want someone to trick them into keeping a secret from us or an authority figure meant to protect them.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carly, thank you! We need to talk about this topic more. There is indeed healing and hope but we must stop this from happening at all. I’m parked in the 54 spot this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for going there Carly! I won’t go into details, but one of our children would have most likely been sexually abused by a bio brother had God not led us to adopt her. We’ve heard from the bio sister that he had severe issues, and had tried to abuse her. Praise God that she was kept safe!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Christy, I’m glad I went there too. It’s important to talk about this. I’m so glad God led you to adopt your daughter and that she was kept safe.

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  5. Carly,
    oh you are at a passion of mine. Protecting innocence! Now I know why my post resonated. 🙂 Thank you so much for using your platform to give such good resources.
    I especially like that you state that we don’t have to suspect everyone, but just be aware instead of naive.
    Often these victims of abuse are more easily led into trafficking than those who have not been abused.
    Love,
    Tammy

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tammy. I’m glad you see this as important too. Abuse has such a big long-term impact in many ways but there are often things we can do to prevent it, and just being aware makes a big difference.

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  6. Hi Carly, I’m visiting you back from Five Minute Friday, and I’m impressed with this important topic you’ve taken on! Thanks for this reminder, because I would say that everyone is at least in touch with someone who has had to deal with some form of sexual abuse; you’re right that it’s closer than we’d like to admit. Thanks for being so thorough with the resources you’ve listed, and most of all, for reminding us that although we may need help in this area, God’s healing can give us hope!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, I appreciate your encouragement. It is important to talk about because it affects so many people. But I’m grateful that there is always hope with God.

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  7. Carly, I applaud you. The church (in general) is doing a terrible job of addressing this issue. People suffer and because we are uncomfortable it all gets swept under the rug and cycles of shame and abuse continue unimpeded. We have to do better. We must do better. I don’t have kids, but I will take every opportunity to come alongside the parents I know and help them. I’ll take every opportunity to communicate these truths to the kids I know. And I will not, cannot, stay silent if stories of abuse reach my ears.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Marie. I don’t have kids either, which was partly why I hesitated to write this. Who wants a non-parent giving parenting advice? But the only way to stop it happening is if we start talking about it. As you say, we all have a part to play and a responsibility in protecting children and supporting parents in that.

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  8. Carly, I’m so glad you “went there.” You are right – we need to talk about it, know about it, and watch for it. And we need to let our kids know what is NOT ok. Thank you! Glad I stopped by from Five Minute Friday!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Carly, I’m stopping by from #RaRaLinkup today as your neighbor. And I’m so glad you are in front of me in the lineup. Your topic is one that needs to be addressed. People don’t talk about it too much, in part (I suspect) because “good Christians shouldn’t have to worry about this.”

    I have a family member, and good friends who were sexually abused as children, or their kids have been. And it breaks my heart. We have tried to teach our boys, and we’ve done what we can to protect them. The truth is, sometimes we can do everything right, but the unthinkable still happens. Knowing the signs to look for as a parent is helpful. We need to be vigilant without becoming paranoid. Thank yo for sharing so many resources too.

    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jeanne. It’s often not a subject people are comfortable with but I agree, we have to talk about it to prevent it from happening.
      As you say, even when we do everything right it doesn’t prevent it entirely but having some knowledge can definitely help.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Such an important topic, Carly, we need more dialogue about something so widespread in our culture. Our kids are our legacy, and it should be on our minds to protect and educate! And loved all the links to resources you included… I pray parents are reading and feeling equipped today! From #TellHisStory

    Liked by 1 person

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