Protecting Children From Sexual Predators – Some Useful Parenting Tips to End Childhood Sexual Abuse

Every day, we hear more reports of child abduction and/or sexual abuse by sexual predators. These predators can be strangers. However, as statistics below show, most times your children will know the perpetrators of such harmful crimes. What are some useful parenting tips to end childhood sexual abuse, protecting children from both known and unknown sexual predators?

National Statistics

RAINN (the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network) provides the following statistics. However, since childhood sexual abuse is often hidden and it is generally estimated that approximately 88% of sexual abuse cases are never reported, national statistics can vary broadly. Therefore, it is likely the crime is more extensive than these figures reflect.

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men have been sexually abused in their lifetimes in the United States
  • 44% of sexual abuse victims are under the age of 18
  • 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker
  • Childhood sexual abuse occurs everywhere, regardless of social, economic or ethnic backgrounds

In addition, domestic violence accounts for a great amount of sexual abuse, even among children, as many domestic violence perpetrators also abuse children in the household. The strongest risk factor for the same violent behavior occurs in homes where children witness violence with and among their caregivers. In fact, boys who observe or who may be forced to participate in domestic violence, including inappropriate sexual behavior, are twice as likely to abuse both their partners and their own children when they have reached adulthood.

Cost to Society

Whether you have children or not, the problem affects everyone, as the Center for Sex Offender Management estimates that 30% to 60% of children sexually abused as children later become adult sex offenders. Furthermore, there is a definitive economic impact on society, most notably a loss of health due to the physical and emotional distress of such crimes. As victims reach adulthood, those untreated problems are further exacerbated by loss of work. Even incarceration of sentenced sex offenders attributes to a strain on the prison system and loss of revenue. Currently in the United States, almost 8 million paid workdays and 5.6 million days of household productivity are lost per year due to such destructive crimes, equivalent to 32,000 full-time jobs. The cost for loss of health, work and imprisonment translates to annual lost revenues of approximately $5.8 billion.

Look for Signs of Abuse

Many people ignore the signs of childhood sexual and physical abuse. It is important to investigate further if your child displays any of the following:

  1. Change in Behavior and Health
  2. Those children who fall victim to sexual perpetrators may exhibit poor physical and mental health. They could also begin having social difficulties. Furthermore, cognitive dysfunction and behavioral problems may suddenly manifest.
  3. Keeping Secrets
  4. Sexual predators do not want to be caught. They will instruct the child to keep the ‘secret’ about any inappropriate behavior. Sexual perpetrators rely on the fact that children ‘do as they are told’ by someone older. In addition, although most people think that only adults are sexual and/or physical abusers, as the vicious cycle of abuse continues more people under the age of 18 become abusers themselves. Therefore, be cognizant of any secrets you discover being kept from you from ANYONE older than your child’s age.
  5. Withdrawing from Other Friends – Spending Time with Someone Older Than Your Child
  6. Children can become confused about their bodies if they are violated inappropriately. The sexual acts performed can be pleasurable and many times sexual predators will tell your child that their sexual escapades are not wrong. Therefore, your child, although they may feel guilty about what is happening, may incorrectly believe that what they are doing is not improper since it feels good. Beware if you notice your child has withdrawn from others, wishing to spend alone time with another older person.
  7. Receiving Unexplained Gifts from Others
  8. Inappropriate sexual behavior is about control, not sex. This is one reason children are such easy targets. Sexual predators will often give gifts to your child as another way to reinforce their control over them. Always ask and investigate any unexplained gifts to your child.
  9. Discovery of Spending Time Alone with Older Person in Isolated or Unique Locations
  10. Sexual predators love to isolate their victims. They oftentimes will set up ‘special meeting’ places, away from suspicious eyes. Therefore, if you discover your child is spending time alone with someone older in any isolated or unique location, it is wise to probe further.

Ways to Protect Your Child

  1. Trust Your Instincts
    Sexual predators choose their crime victims based upon availability. Therefore, it makes sense that most victims personally know their perpetrators since they may be already easily acquainted with them in their circle of family, friends and community. Therefore, dealing with sexual abuse with someone your child may know could present additional challenges. First, the chances you will know your child’s sexual predator is very high. Be open to this fact. No matter how much you may trust your spouse, your family, your friends, and members of your community, such as teachers, counselors and spiritual support, do not ignore any of the above signs of abuse. Furthermore, oftentimes a parent’s instincts will alert them to a problem, but they ignore it because they already know the person. We think sexual predators look like monsters. However, they look like everyone else. Never ignore your instincts. It is better to be safe than sorry.
  2. Communicate Early and OftenOpen a line of communication about inappropriate sexual behavior early. Establish trust with your child so that they will feel free to share anything with you. Teach your child:
    • Reinforce ‘Stranger Danger’ Rules
      Many schools provide education on staying away from strangers. However, please reinforce those warnings and advice. Tell your children to stay away from strangers, do not get into their car and do not offer assistant to lone strangers, etc. If addition, travel with buddies when possible.
    • Saying ‘No’ is OK
      Children are taught to do as they are told and respect adults. However, be sure they are aware that it is OK to say no when they feel uncomfortable, regardless of whom they are confronting.
    • Some Secrets are Bad
      Instruct your child between the difference between harmless secrets shared with friends and inappropriate ones. Anything having to do with sexual behavior or physical abuse in any way needs to be shared with a child’s parent.
    • Communicate Differences Between Different Types of Touch
      Touching is a wonderful part of life. However, it is most beneficial to educate your children about the differences between different types of touching with regard to discerning the differences between ‘real love’ and ‘fake love.’ For instance, if another person speaks of love as allowing your child access to put their hands down inside your child’s clothing in those areas normally covered by a bathing suit, there may be some cause for concern and evaluation. In addition, you do not want your child afraid of your doctor who may need to explore these areas. Therefore, relating touching to ‘real love’ and ‘fake love’ may help with trips to the doctor since he normally does not relate touching to love. Regardless, reiterate that sexual touching done ALONE with an older person needs to be thwarted. The best suggestion is to open the lines of communication and education. It may also be beneficial to accompany your child to the doctor.
    • Warn of Sexual Predators on the Internet
      The internet, although a valuable source of education and information, can also be very dangerous. Be vigilant about knowing to whom your child may be communicating. Instruct them never to give out personal information online and to report to you anyone discussing keeping ‘secrets’ or talking about ‘private’ areas of the body.
  3. Teach Your Children to Trust Their Instincts
    Although there are numerous programs and parents who utilize the above tactics, there still is an overwhelming incidence of childhood sexual and physical abuse. What is lacking? If you teach children to listen to their own gut in any situation, harm can be averted. Instruct your child to listen and act on the spirit that is within them guiding them to a constructive path. If their intuition makes them uncomfortable with a certain situation, teach them to run away and get help.
  4. Listen to Your Child
    Finally, please listen to your child no matter how outrageous you may feel about their story. Once you have told your child to tell you their ‘secrets’ and to share whatever they are feeling and then you discount their story, you simply destroy trust. Take everything they say as truth, no matter the other person involved. Investigate further anything they tell you. After all, as a parent, it is your job to protect your child, not another adult. Listening to your child could stop harm.

Sexual predators destroy lives. However, if we all implement these useful parenting tips, childhood sexual abuse could end. Our children and society can be protected more successfully from known and unknown sexual predators. Is it not worth a try?

Linking Sexual Abuse to Mental Health Problems

A big obstacle to recovery is that often survivors of child sexual abuse (CSA) do not know that the problems they have are related to past experiences of CSA. In fact, in my research 60% of the participants did not link their mental health problems to their history of sexual abuse. They were completely unaware of the significant impact sexual abuse had in their emotional, physical, and mental life.

Instead they thought something is wrong with them and with their way of thinking. They became angry and frustrated with themselves for being depressed without obvious reasons, having anxiety attacks that don’t make any sense, and for being ‘utterly defective’. What some professionals easily overlook is that the ‘average’ person does not link her/his emotional state today to experiences they had 30 years ago and which they might have partly forgotten.

When health professionals do not take a thorough personal history and ask if the person has experienced any forms of abuse, survivors will not know the right questions to ask that give them access to the help they need. More often than not they don’t really know what they might need. Their lack of understanding the origins of their problems was compounded when they approached public mental health services’ for help. Research has shown that public mental health services don’t always inquire about a person’s history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.

This invisibility of sexual abuse is a tragedy. Without understanding the link between sexual abuse and psychiatric disturbances, survivors end up blaming themselves for being weak, stupid, crazy, unlovable, defective, and many other negative characteristics. Often enough it leads to self-hate and self-harming behaviours that in turn re-enforce negative self perception. Survivors’ mental health spirals downwards and recovery is seriously hindered. They might spend years and years in mental health care without little or no improvement.

The invisibility of CSA in society and in mental health settings combined with survivors’ childhood conditioning of being silenced, their coping strategies of avoidance and dissociation, family’s and friends’ limits of knowing how to deal with survivors’ pain and disorganised life, and the inability to link the problems survivors have to their experiences of abuse prevent people not only from being effective in seeking professional help but also from themselves from future emotional, physical, or sexual harm.

Sexual abuse harms a person in many different ways. How deeply a person is affected by sexual abuse depends on a number of variants. In general we can say that the impacts of abuse depends on the age of the child, the relationship between child and perpetrator, the frequency, the duration, the severity, the presence of threats, and the availability of support and care. Most survivors who seek help struggle with cognitive contamination, impaired social functioning, impaired memory processing, negative self-relations and identity, learned helplessness, physical health problems i.e. irritable bowl syndrome, sleep disturbances, disordered eating, mood disturbances, abuse of drugs and alcohol, to name just the most obvious.

Although the above mentioned symptoms are not always due to sexual abuse, it may be useful to ask yourself, whether any forms of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect have occurred. When you have been abused and you can make the link to your problems, you can start dealing with the abuse and begin your journey of recovery.

Substance Abuse Treatment Programs – Mental Health Terms and Most Likely Victims

The World Health Organization defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Mental health is a widely used term that includes a number of mental health disorders.

As you read the above definition it may leave one to think that there is no concrete definition of who is mentally healthy and who is not and why. However, we do suspect that the definition is subjective and there are components that play a huge role in the assessment of ones mental health. In this article, we will make references to a few different kinds of mental health disorders and who is a more likely candidate to experience unhealthy mental health behaviors.

Depression: is a term that the medical professionals uses to describe the way that you feel at that moment of time about yourself

Here are a few signs of depression E.g. despair, sadness, emotionless. Depression can be a suffocating experience. It can also leave you feeling hopeless, like there is no tomorrow. It is a lonely and low emotion. Who does depression affect, it can affect the most aggressive individual down to the timid and shy. It crosses color, age, social economic, or fame boundaries.

There are two terms that best explain the levels of depression; diathesis-stress model and biopsychosocial model. Psychiatric hospitals or community centers are where most services are treated. The individuals there are diagnosed by medical professionals.

Mental Abuse: What is mental abuse? Mental abuse is exactly what is sounds like, however, there are non-verbal forms of mental abuse. I am pretty sure we have all heard that old adage; sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you… well that is only partially true. Verbal abuse can be just as detrimental as physical abuse. If you are hearing degrading comments like you are “stupid”, “too fat” “unattractive” or “worthless” chances are you are a victim of mental abuse. Additionally, if you are constantly walking on egg shells to get along with friends and family members that is another sign of mental abuse.

Physical Abuse: is also brought on by persons that are suffering from mental illness. Many times it is encouraged when drinking excessively, high on drug or if that person was a victim of past physical abuse. Unlike mental abuse that may go unnoticed by friends or family members, physical abuse is often times detected mainly because of the evidence of the attack. Physical abuse often times leave its victims seriously wounded or dead. Here are a few commonalities of persons that may have a higher increased chance of being physically abused:

1. If you are in a relationships with a substance abuser or alcoholic

2. If you have been molested as a child or adult

3. If you come from a family of abusers

4. If you have low self-worth or low self-esteem

5. If you are unemployed and strapped for money.

There you have it, a few of the most recognized mental health disorders. Substance abuse and mental disorders comes disguised in many forms. Be sure to get educated and informed. There are medical health facilities that can assist any persons that are experiencing any of the above symptoms.

Domestic Violence Statistics Vital to Understanding How to Help Abuse Victims

Looking at domestic violence statistics can be quite disturbing. However, by doing so, it helps all of us understand the issue better and allows us to come up with solutions to abuse.

Any kind of violence between family members, spouses and partners is domestic abuse. Domestic abuse is usually brought on by high stress and behaviors. As many as one in every four women have been a victim. Various domestic violence statistics follow.

From a study held in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the National Institute of Justice, Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Violence found that as many as 3 million to 6 million women nationally are abused physically by their boyfriend or husband every year.

Every year 85% of victims are women abused by their partners. Men make up 15% of domestic abuse victims every year.

This type of abuse is all around, but it is not talked about. As many as 74% of people know someone who has or is going through one form of domestic abuse. And 30% of people know of someone who has been abused physically by their partner within the last year.

Unfortunately, domestic abuse can lead to death. In domestic homicides one in every four is a man, meaning that three out of four homicides are women. And these men and women were killed by their intimate partners.

In 2000 1,247 women were murdered by their partner and 400 men were killed by their partner. Of all the murders of women, 30% are domestic abuse homicides. And of men murdered, 5% are domestic abuse homicides. Most often, domestic abuse homicides are between a husband and wife, but the number of homicides between boyfriends and girlfriends has been rising in recent years.

Every year, the cost of health care related to this type of violence has been on the rise. The health care that people receive due to domestic abuse can be for mental health and medical care. As high as $4.1 to $5.8 billion dollars is spent on mental health care services and medical care. On top of medical care, lost wages have exceeded $1.8 billion dollars annually due to domestic violence.

Of female victims, half report physical injury. Though 50% of female victims receive injuries only 20% seek out medical attention. Of the women who received medical attention 37% received their injuries on a recurring basis from a boyfriend or spouse.

These domestic violence statistics are not limited to husbands and wives. 20% of female teenagers have been abused either physically or sexually from their boyfriend. One in five teenagers has been victim of physical abuse while in a serious relationship by their partner.

And 14% of teenagers have been threatened by their girlfriend or boyfriend, and often the threat is about breaking up and forcing the other to stay in the abusive relationship. Studies have shown that the more serious a relationship gets and the longer it gets there is a higher potential for violence.

Regarding sexual assaults, 70% are date rape involving women in their teens to college years. 38% of these women are aged 14 to 17 years old. One in every five women has been sexually assaulted. And 75% of women who have been sexually abused since they were 18 years old were abused by a husband or an intimate partner.

Looking at domestic violence statistics reveals that children are often victims of domestic abuse. Men who assault their wives are 50% more likely to assault their children. Every year as many as 3.3 to 10 million children witness domestic violence.

Often, when men are victims of domestic abuse, the issue is often downplayed. If a man is subject to abuse he is more likely to not report it, making it harder to get accurate domestic violence statistics.

The act of domestic violence is comparable between men and women. But the abuse that men receive from partners varies and women are likely to take abusive control by making the husband feel bad about himself, thus deflating his self-esteem. Women are more likely to use jealousy, isolation, children and financial abuse whereas men are more likely to use their physical prowess to intimidate a woman.

Pacific Health – What is Child Abuse and What Should I Do If I Suspect a Child is Being Abused?

What is child abuse?

Child abuse refers to parents or adults or some one else who harm, hurt, and neglect children or young people.

How serious is the problem in New Zealand (NZ)?

Surprisingly, the prevalence of abuse against children and young people does not appear to have changed over time between 1998 and 2009 in New Zealand. Based on a Ministry of Health Report in 1998, about 8 children on average between the ages 0 and 14 years died from injuries inflicted by another family member. In 2009, based on a report produced by the Family Violence Death Review Committee, 12 children were killed directly by members of their own family. On average, 8 children die every year at the hands of family members in NZ. At the time of writing this article, another child was killed. The six month old infant died from severe head injuries meted out by a family member.

There are four types of child abuse

Although physical violence is the most common form of abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and sexual abuse are other forms of violence that can hurt children. Emotional abuse is when a parent or adult puts a child down; makes a child feel like they are worthless; and, acts like they do not care about you or want you. Neglect is when a parent or adult does not look after a child’s basic needs such as provide food, care, love and security. Sexual abuse is when a parent, or another member of the family or someone else touches a child inappropriately or makes a child do sexual things. Physical abuse is when a parent or adult or a sibling threatens to hurt a child or hits and beats a child to inflict an injury.

What could I do if I suspect a child is abused?

In New Zealand, if you think or believe that a child is being abused call the Police Child Abuse Team (CAT) or Child Youth and Family (CYF). These organisations work together to explore the seriousness of the situation and determine the next course of action. People who are concerned that their suspicions may be wrong, need not worry about it, because The Children Young Persons and Their Families Act 1984 protects people who notify concerns of abuse in good faith from civil and criminal proceedings.