November 26, 2011

Children need our help

While I have no real problem with what is said below, I am beginning to wonder if its time for newer studies to verify statistics. There have been many reports that, sexual abuse has been reduced some 40% between 1992 and 2000 (Source: 2004), is it still an epidemic? Or, are we just shocked at a few recent major cases, while very bad, may not be the norm. And, just so I am not misconstrued, children always need help as this article says.
11-26-2011 National:

The Penn State child sexual abuse scandal is horrifying to us all. It is hard to imagine all the adults who knew and did little or nothing to protect the children who were in harms’ way. These adults could have saved so many children from rape and abuse if only they had done what was morally right.

That said, it needs to be understood that child sexual abuse has been a secret epidemic in our country for a very long time. This epidemic is one that adults can prevent. In the United States, one in four girls and one in five to seven boys(Source: 1994) is sexually abused.
I think it time to question these 1994 statistics given recent reports (2004) that sex abuse has come way down. So, are these numbers still correct today in 2011?
For a long time we relied upon telling our children to protect themselves. Children are not developmentally able to overcome the threats, bribes and need for relationship with people they trust and may depend on for sustenance. There are always some children who will report abuse or feeling uncomfortable with someone’s behavior but at least 85 percent, even after they have been told to tell, will not, at least not while they are children.

Children often believe it is their fault and just as often do not want to get someone they care about in trouble. There are an endless number of reasons why children do not tell. Expecting children to protect themselves just has not and will not work. In truth, it is our adult responsibility to look after and protect our children from all kinds of harm, child sexual abuse included.

Just think how difficult it is for an adult rape victim to come forward to report what has happened. We need to recognize how much more difficult it is for a child to report a sex crime that he or she may not even have the vocabulary to describe.

We must know where and with whom our children are spending time. We must adequately supervise children when they are playing together. We have to be cautious when someone repeatedly wants to spend time alone with one of our children. Over 90 percent of offenders are someone well known to the family and the child. They may be part of an extended family member or a trusted individual like a coach, teacher, babysitter, minister or doctor.

One-third to one-half of those who sexually abuse children are youths themselves. About half the youths who have sexual behavior problems are between the ages of 10 to 14. Most do not grow up to be pedophiles but a few do. All of them would benefit from appropriate therapy, which thankfully is available in every county in Vermont. Reporting the suspicion of child to child sexual abuse may help both children significantly and many others over the years to come.

We must STEP UP and say when someone’s behavior with a child is making us feel uncomfortable. Intervening before abuse has occurred is better than waiting until after the fact. Support our children when they refuse to give a relative or family friend affection on demand. It teaches everyone that children do not need to follow others’ wishes for affection when they do not wish to give a kiss or a hug. It is OK to learn that refusing touch is an option from a very young age. Explain to your friend or relative why you are not insisting on your child’s compliance. If the other person cares about your child they will agree with you and accept that it is up to your child to be affectionate or not with anyone.

Use correct names for all body parts with children. Let guests in your home hear you say these words clearly and without embarrassment. This tells a “would be offender” that your child will be able to tell and be clearly understood. This simple act on the part of a parent can protect a child.

We can give children skills, such as asking for help when feeling mixed up and confused about anything: being assertive about their own body boundaries; feeling empathy toward others; feeling good about their bodies; and knowing that they can come and share anything at all with you or another trusted adult.

The well being and safety of children is a responsibility all adults must share. It is morally correct. We are all mandatory reporters in my view, although not by law in Vermont, at this time. If you believe that all adult Vermonters should be required to report the suspicion of child abuse and neglect, contact your state legislators and ask them to make our law reflect this basic principle.

Children need our help to be safe and to thrive. Please join me and STEP UP. ..Source.. by Linda Johnson is executive director for Prevent Child Abuse Vermont.

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