By Areesha Babar
Child abuse can happen to children of any race, socioeconomic group, religion or culture. It can be in physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual form. Child abuse is of many types. It can also result from neglect. It can emotionally damage our kids. We teach our young children all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. We teach our kids about smoke alarms and how to escape a fire. We teach our children how to cross the road safely. We often avoid discussing child abuse problems with our kids. Child abuse is a difficult topic to discuss.
There are some strategies that you can adapt to prevent your child from being abused.
1) Overcoming communication barriers.
It’s important to encourage your kids to talk to you about their day. Build your trust by regularly talking to them about their day and activities. School-aged children need and want more independence. Good communication helps parents and children trust that what is going on is safe. Let the children know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed. Make them feel comfortable raising any topic. The best communication between you and the child will occur when others are not around. Your child should feel secure while discussing or complaining about anything. Don’t ask why, but do ask what happened. Then, if your kid reports any unacceptable behavior by others to you, it is your responsibility to trust them and take action.
2) Know Where Your Children Are And Who They Are With At All Times.
Child abuse can happen anywhere. In fact, someone you know or care about could be involved in it. Know your children’s friends and their parents. Make sure they are reliable before you allow your child to spend time at their house, especially if your child will be spending time in the other kid’s home for a sleepover or to play. If you don’t have reliable sources in the form of mutual friends, you’ll have to take the initiative and get to know the parents or friends on your own. If your child has a cell phone, talk about its proper use. For emergencies, your child needs to know and have written down your home, work, and cell phone numbers.
3) Teaching your children the differences between “good touch” and “bad touch.”
Teach your children that they own their bodies and that no one has a right to touch them unless it’s okay with them. Teach children from a very young about correct biological names of body parts so that they don’t feel embarrassed to talk about it and in an abusive situation the child understands what is happening. For children, “good” touch is a touch that cares for them, that is necessary for their health or safety, or makes them feel safe, or is fun.”Bad” touch is any touch that they don’t want or makes them feel scared. It means that the other person shouldn’t be touching them in that way.
4) Don’t keep secrets.
In the world of child abuse prevention, talking about secrets is very important. Remind your children frequently that no adult should ever ask them to keep secrets. And that includes you. Helping children differentiate between ‘okay’ and ‘not okay’ secrets is useful. “This is our little secret” this is a manipulative tactic often used by people who sexually abuse children. Children should be reminded not to keep secrets about bullying, fighting, dangerous activities and inappropriate touching.
5) Teach your children to say no.
Raise your children to be polite, but not pushovers. Some children are uncomfortable with telling people “no”— especially older peers or adults. We can help them realize that they have the right to say ‘no’ to those who would abuse their authority as adults. We should make sure that kids understand that their safety is more important than good manners.
6) Look for changes in your child.
Abuse is not usually as obvious as broken bones or bruises. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive. The stress, fear, and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep. They may have a problem in concentrating in school. Be aware that children may show some of these signs. Trust your instincts. Suspicion of abuse is enough of a reason to take action.