Preventing Sexual Abuse in Children and Teens
The Bible graciously reminds us that children are “an heritage from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3) and parents are given the unique task of providing for their care, keeping, and training. Prevention of sexual abuse is not an easy topic to be open about, yet our children need us to be strong and courageous with a proactive mindset. The word “prevent” summons us “to keep something from occurring; avert; hinder”. Just like children get helmets and training wheels when learning to ride bikes, our parental goal is to try and prevent injuries if something goes wrong. A similar approach is needed in the area of preventing sexual abuse in children and teens.
Sadly, some parents who consider their children “safe” from sexual victimization can live in false security and can be setting an unfortunate course for their families. The smartphone world has also opened up an easy portal for some abusers to get to our kids. Some sobering statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime report: (Child Sexual Abuse Statistics – The National Center for Victims of Crime)
- 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are a victim of child sexual abuse.
- Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident.
- During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized.
- Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized.
- Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
- According to a 2003 National Institute of Justice report, 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew well (page 5).
While believers are called to live not in a “spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7), there are some very helpful ways to instill needed prevention tools into our kids. Three principles to consider as you discuss this topic are below.
First, before parents teach a “don’t or not”, parents also need to make sure they have taught the “do’s” of what IS true and right. Laying a foundation for what is true and right about our kids’ bodies as God has wonderfully created them includes teaching, in an age-appropriate manner, on possible future sexual intimacy with a spouse. Second, parents need to teach about the protection of our bodies and why some body parts and touches are always to be kept safe and private. Third, parents need to teach and talk about “refusal” skills or how to say NO to someone who is crossing the line, and how to “go and tell” a parent (or nearest adult) immediately if something has occurred or they have been asked to do something sexual. New skills, such as the refusal skill, is even good to practice with children from time to time as our kids develop. As kids mature, providing them contextual discussion opportunities about possible places, scenarios, etc. helps them know that Mom & Dad are very open and safe to talking with them about this subject.
For Further Information:
Talking to Your Kids about Sexual Abuse [Focus on the Family]
Teach Appropriate Touch [Focus on the Family]
God Made All of Me
Author: Justin Holcomb and Lindsey Holcomb
God Made All of Me starts from the fundamental truth that God created everything and applies that truth to kids and their bodies. It equips parents to talk with both boys and girls about their bodies and to help them understand the difference between the appropriate and inappropriate touch of others. God Made All of Me allows families to build a first line of defense against sexual abuse in the safety of their own homes.
Gods Design for Sex Series
Author: Stand Jones and Brenna Jones
Prepare your kids now for the pressures and relationships they’ll experience as teens and adults. These award-winning illustrated books give you age-appropriate, biblically-based information to help you talk openly with your children about sex and answer their questions about God’s design for families; breastfeeding; puberty; intercourse; and other tough issues.