According to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. In an effort to make our country’s homes, schools, houses of worship and other places safer for all children, our government has prepared a number of useful Internet resources. If you have children -- or simply want to make this world a better place for them -- please take the time to read some of the materials referenced below.
You can find “Tip Sheets” addressing such topics as: “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse,” “Keeping Your Family Strong,” “Parents and Caregivers,” and “Human Trafficking: Protecting Our Youth.” All of this material is available in both English and Spanish. This particular article reviews some of the specific information provided on preventing child sexual abuse.
Has your child been touched inappropriately or in a sexual manner by a teacher, coach or other adult? If so, you may need to file a lawsuit to recover for your child’s past suffering and possible need for future counseling. Fort Worth child abuse attorney Tom Hall can help by confidentially discussing your child’s case with you.
Mr. Hall has been representing families like yours for over 25 years. He’s also board certified in Texas personal injury trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. You can contact the law offices of Fort Worth child abuse attorney Tom Hall today by calling 1-817-831-6100. Ask to schedule your FREE consultation.
Important Tips for Keeping Your Children Safe from Sexual Abuse
- Have a private talk with each of your children. Explain to them that while most adults are good people who want to help them and take good care of them – there are others that they must watch out for – in terms of how they may try to speak with your children or touch them. Help your children understand that they are in charge of their own bodies and who they choose to let hug them or otherwise touch them.
Let your kids know that unless they’re having a diaper changed or getting help with taking off wet clothes to put on dry ones, no adult should be touching them near their “private parts.” Be sure that they realize that they must watch the behavior of both strangers and people they may already know.
After warning your children about such matters, always comfort them again by telling them that this type of event may never happen. However, ask them to let you know if they ever have any questions or concerns about the way an older child or adult has been touching them – especially if it has made them feel uncomfortable. Tell them that you’ll never be upset or angry with them if they report such concerns to you and that you’ll always be on their side;
- Stay involved in each of your children’s lives as much as possible. Always look for a time each day when either you or your spouse can ask each child how his/her day went. Never just assume that if your child is quiet that all is going well;
- As an adult, “watch out for ‘grooming’ behaviors in adults who spend time with your child.” Be a bit concerned about adults who regularly ask to spend time alone with your child for no apparently valid reason. Also, watch out for adults who seem to have picked out one of your children to receive regular special gifts;
- Choose activities for your children that “minimize one-on-one” interaction time with adults. Never sign your child up for any type of activity without first checking on the screening process used to select the teachers, counselors and/or assistants. Also, make sure this screening is conducted again each year;
- Help your children feel comfortable talking about their bodies with you. “Teach children accurate names of private body parts.” As already referenced briefly above, explain “the difference between touches that are ‘okay’ and [those that are] not okay;”
- Make sure your children can use a bathroom alone at a young age. This will help cut down on the time the wrong type of adults may try to find time to be alone with your children in a bathroom or other similar area;
- Discuss the different types of “secrets” a child might encounter in life. Clearly explain that it’s never wrong to tell you as a parent if someone is touching your child in ways that just don’t seem right. Tell your child that this is not an appropriate “secret” for any adult to ever ask a child to keep – no matter what. Give them innocent examples of secrets that are okay and that they can understand. For example, you can tell them that if they know what type of gift someone else is giving you for your birthday, it’s okay for them to keep that type of secret. (You can find more good tips by visiting this link.)
Signs Your Child May Be Trying to Cope with Recent Sexual Abuse
- Unexplained angry outbursts – or unusual mood swings that have never occurred in the past (and can’t be simply due to a need for a nap)… Talk calmly with your child and try to understand this type of behavior once it starts happening;
- Loss of appetite or complaints about having a hard time swallowing food when clearly not physically ill;
- Sudden, unexplained refusals to spend time with a particular relative or family friend. Always take such complaints seriously and discuss the child’s concerns in private;
- “Unexplained pain, itching, redness, or bleeding in the genital area.” Calmly ask your child when s/he first noticed these problems. Make it a habit to [casually] check your younger children’s bodies while bathing them. Once they’re older, occasionally sit down with each one alone (preferably the “same sex” parent) and ask if they have ever been concerned about the way an adult has physically interacted with them;
- Be concerned if your child starts discussing sexual topics in new and unusual ways. Find out who your child has been spending time with once you start hearing new blunt or crude terms for sex acts. Be sure to make your inquiries in a non-threatening manner. If you haven’t had a general talk with your child about sex and s/he is asking a number of questions – take the time to explain the basics personally – or ask a completely trustworthy relative to help out with this talk.
Remember, if you don’t discuss sex with your child, someone else will – and the information provided may either be largely incorrect or even potentially harmful to your child. Also, find out how your child’s school handles this topic and when it will first be presented in class. Try to speak with your child about sex before s/he hears about it at school. This can make your child feel much more at ease when it’s presented in public.