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Child abusers are not always strangers who lurk where children gather. Unfortunately, they are often people you know and interact with in your daily life. They can be a neighbor, family member, friend—anybody. It is easier for someone trusted and known to the child and parent to gain access to their victims.
There are many reasons why children do not report abuse. Often times, they can feel ashamed, scared, guilty, and embarrassed. They do not want to upset those close to them. They may feel they should have been able to stop it and that it is their fault, especially if the abuse was by a trusted person. They also feel they will not be believed, often because this is what the abuser told them.
Prevention is the best way to combat child abuse. Early intervention to prevent and treat substance abuse and domestic violence can reduce the incidence of abuse against children.
Those who abuse children need the opportunity to do so. They take advantage of one-on-one situations to gain a child’s trust. Avoid one-on-one adult/child situations by setting boundaries with other adults. As a parent, you have the right to say no to adults who want to be alone with your child. If they object to you being present during their time with your child, ask yourself, “Why?”
New technology is one of the easiest ways for a child abuser to gain access to your child.
Many incidents of child abuse and neglect can be prevented with proper education. Encourage your community to offer parenting education and support. Also, teach your child about their body, what abuse is, and that they have the right to say “no,” even to an adult, if they feel uncomfortable.
Abusers choose children who they can easily connect with and who are unlikely to tell about the abuse. They will target children who are vulnerable, those they can make “feel special,” and often exploit physical, developmental and emotional problems to do this.
Be active in your child’s life! Drop into sports practices, tutoring sessions, etc. Know their friends’ parents. If you are a presence, especially an unexpected one, your child is not as accessible to predators. Communicate with your child and make sure to LISTEN.