6 Ways to Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse


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By DeAnna

Sexual abuse. This is not a topic that most people like even thinking about, much less talking about. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. To put this in perspective, it means in a classroom of 25 High School Seniors, 3 of the girls and 2 of the boys will have likely been sexually abused. And sadly, black children are almost twice as likely to be abused sexually than children of other races.

People who experience such abuse are at higher risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, substance abuse, suicide attempts and difficulties in romantic relationships. But there are things that you can do that will hopefully lower the risk of your child, and other children you know, becoming victims of this crime.

1. Refer to your child’s body parts by their correct anatomical terms.
Penis. Vagina. Vulva. Testicles. Hearing these words makes many people uncomfortable, and even more so when coming out of a young child’s mouth. However, giving your child the proper knowledge about their body parts makes people who sexually abuse children uncomfortable too. By using the scientific terms, it becomes clear to a potential abuser that your child is knowledgeable about his body, and could report any inappropriate touching using the correct terms.

Additionally, if you consistently refer to these body parts correctly, and one day your child comes home calling his penis a ding dong,  that becomes a signal to you that someone else has been talking with your child about his private parts. This gives you an excellent opportunity to further explore the circumstances surrounding such a conversation.

So get over whatever hangups you might have about that area down there,  and start using the words from your old Health Sciences textbook. Penis penis penis. Vagina vagina vagina. See? It’s not so hard.

2. Always allow your child to choose when to show affection–Never force him to be affectionate towards anyone.
“Gimme a kiss.” 
“Go give Auntie some sugar.” 
“Hug your brother and tell him you’re sorry.” 

How many times have you heard young children being instructed to display affection towards another person, even when it is clear they don’t want to? This is something that so many parents do, in the interest of raising polite and friendly kids. But another message that comes across when you force a child to kiss or hug is this one: “Your feelings are not important, and it is okay to have your physical boundaries violated in order to serve another person’s needs.”  

Instead you can try:
“Can I have a kiss?”
“Would you like to give Grandma a hug goodbye?”

If the child feels like it, great. If not, that’s fine too. You can always tell the other person “Oh not today, maybe next time.” Or maybe not–it’s really up to your kid. Using phrases like these show your child that he is in control, and he is always free to say yes or no. Also remember that fist bumps, high fives, blowing kisses, etc. are all great ways to show fondness for other people that involve much less personal space.

If you encounter resistance from others in your life around this: Just explain to them why you’re doing it. Anyone that truly cares about your child should applaud and support your efforts to help keep him safe. If they don’t, it would probably be worth it to look at how else that person violates your boundaries in the relationship.

3. Stop telling your child to, “Be good.”
Of course we all want children that follow the rules. However, when we say things like “Be good, ” we can sometimes send the message that being obedient is something that we value over all other things. People who sexually abuse children are looking for young people that are compliant and don’t question authority. So when you drop your child off at school, try saying “Learn lots.” Or at a sleepover,  “Have a great time.” When my friends would go out for a night of partying in college, the mantra was,  “Have fun. Be safe.” These are small ways to consistently reinforce the message that as your child’s parent, you will support him in not being good,   if that means trusting his instincts in uncomfortable situations.

4. Let your child know that he can always come to talk to you about ANYTHING.
It is important to keep the lines of communication open with our children. If we don’t listen to the small things, they are not going to come to us about the big things. One way we can foster that communication is by asking our children open-ended questions. An open ended question is a question that can’t be answered with just a “yes” or “no”

So instead of:
“Did you have fun at school today?” try “How was school?” 

When they answer try saying,  “Oh really? Tell me more.” Or something similar–just whatever feels natural and is going to keep your child talking.

Another part of open communication is being available to answer questions, even those questions that might make us uncomfortable. So if your child asks you out of the blue about sex or drugs or the new health care law or whatever, don’t shut the conversation down. Just answer their questions as best you can in an age-appropriate way, and do what you can to keep the conversation going. If your child asks you a question that catches you off guard, don’t just answer it–try to figure out what is motivating your child to ask in the first place. And if it is a topic you feel very uncomfortable with,  take some deep breaths and try to remain calm. Children are like dogs–they can smell fear.

5. Know that potential abusers may not be who you’d expect. 
The image in the media of people that sexually abuse children and the reality are often very different pictures. Statistically, it’s not the stranger lurking in the bushes that we should be most concerned about, it’s the people in our children’s lives that they like, trust, and sometimes even love. People that abuse children often use the close relationship that they have developed with the child as a way to keep the abuse a secret. If you are not familiar with the term grooming process,  please google it to learn more.

Studies also show that children that live in a household with their mother and a male that is not related to the child (a boyfriend, a stepfather, a roommate, )–these children are 20 times more likely to be abused than a child that lives with both of his biological parents. Now, I’m not trying to start a debate about the ideal family structure. I just want to ask single moms especially to please be careful about the people that you allow to to be alone with your child. I can understand why a mother would see a potential mate who seems to be excited about meeting her children and really friendly towards them as a positive. I personally would see that as a red flag. A man that is interested in me romantically should be interested in me,  not my kids.

I know a woman who was on one of her first dates with a man who told her that he wanted to take her child camping.Yes, alone. Needless to say, he did not get another date. This is just one example, but if you familiarize yourself with the grooming process, you can learn about many others. Adults should feel most comfortable with and most interested in spending time with other adults–not children.

It is also worth noting that a disproportionate number of crimes of sexual abuse are not committed by adults, but by children under the age of 18. So your pre-teen babysitter, your child’s older “friend” from down the street–these are people that you need to be cautious of as well.

6. Handle your business.
Your children need to know that as their parent, you are there to protect and nurture them–not the other way around. You are the adult, you are responsible for your own feelings. Your children don’t make you angry or happy or sad. Just like everyone else in your life, your children behave a certain way and you make a choice about how to respond.

Don’t make your children responsible for your emotional baggage (and we’ve all got baggage.) They are not psychologically equipped to deal with it. If your children feel like it is their responsibility to take care of you, they might avoid coming to you with news that they don’t think you can handle. If you find yourself leaning on your kids to fulfill your emotional needs, I hope you’ll consider getting help from another trusted adult.

In addition, another risk factor for abuse is having parents that are struggling with substance abuse issues. If you think you might have a problem with alcohol or other drugs, please do what you need to do to take care of yourself. There are a number of free resources around the globe for people struggling: alcoholics anonymous (www.aa.org) and narcotics anonymous (www.na.org) are just two that come to mind. You owe it to your kids (and to yourself, ) to be an emotionally healthy, present and vibrant person.

6 1/2. Reach out to others.
I called this one 6 1/2 because it doesn’t have anything to do with protecting your own children. It has to do with protecting other children. People that sexually abuse children often target kids that seem isolated, neglected or in need of positive attention. If there is a child in your neighborhood that often seems to be alone or unprotected by his or her own parents–perhaps consider inviting the child into your home. Even if it’s just a couple of hours sitting in front of the TV watching cartoons, that is more time that they are in the care of a concerned, responsible adult.

Finally, if you are reading this and you experienced sexual abuse in your own life, please know that it was not your fault. If you find yourself still struggling with the effects of the experience, there is help available. www.rainn.org is an organization that offers resources for people that have experienced various types of sexual assault, including a 24-hour online helpline. Healing is possible; you just have to take the necessary steps to find it.

Thank you for reading. If there are additional tips or other thoughts that you’d like to share–please leave them in the comments.

DeAnna is a former psychotherapist turned blogger and stay-at-home mom. You can read her thoughts about race, racism and other forms of inequality on her blog: www.myblackfriendsays.com


  • Alisa

    Great post, I especially liked points 1-3. I always refer to my son’s penis as penis, never using “pee pee” or “wee wee”. Also, points 2 and 3 gave me something to think about, but I will definitely start putting ALL of this advice into action. Thankfully, when he is out of sight, he is only with his father or at 3K. Of course though, I know that I can never be too careful. I also really liked the point warning single mothers to be careful of who they bring around their children. There are too many sad stories of a child who was sexually abused or even killed by their mother’s boyfriend or “friend”. The same goes for single fathers as well though.

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  • http://Bitchesbrewblog.com Erickka

    Thank you for these tips. As the mother of two young daughters its a subject that I can’t escape thinking about.

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  • LibraryLady

    Good post, and thought provoking. This is something that I think about quite a bit, for both my older son and daughter. I hate to seem overprotective, but honestly, you kind of have to be. As much fun as sleepovers are for children, as a parent, it’s not something I’m comfortable with.

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    • Alisa

      I never went to sleepovers when I was a little girl because my father never allowed me to. Growing up, I thought it wasn’t fair, but as I look back, I understand his reasoning. I would never allow my son to go to a sleepover either.

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      • Mike

        I never left my house when I was a little boy because my mother never allowed me to. Growing up, I thought it wasn’t fair, but as I look back, I understand her reasoning. I would never allow my son to leave the house either.

        Life is dangerous; that’s a fact. You can choose to live and enjoy life (and allow your kids to), or be kept (and keep them) in a little sanitized bubble and be forever safe.

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        • Missy

          I think there is a middle ground here. Yes, the thought of my son being sexually abused makes me physically nauseous. But I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that he could never go to sleepovers. I think it is necessary to know the adults that will be supervising sleepovers well and trust them implicitly. There is a way to be protective of our children while not going overboard. The rule when I was growing up was no sleepovers at the houses of parents my parents had never met and absolutely no sleepovers at homes with single fathers. I also am not of the mindset that “life is dangerous so your kids should get used to it”. It is it job as parents to protect our children in ways that are healthy for our kids and us. We should never do anything that would stunt their growth into healthy adults.

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          • G-Girrrrl

            My parents did let me go to sleepovers, but only at two of my friends’ homes when I was little, and that was after being friends with these girls for years. One of them was my best friend who lived down the street. My dad would not let me spend nights at homes where there were older boys or if the mother had a boyfriend living in the home. I also didn’t understand, but I realize now that it was smart. My parents were also always reminding me never to let anyone touch me and if they did, to always tell them. I was grateful that my parents made me feel safe coming to them when I was 11 years old and a relative attempted inappropriate touching. I was armed with my autonomy and my parent’s instructions. I told my dad immediately and he believed me. This is something missing from the otherwise outstanding article above. Most kids fear that they won’t be believed when they tell their parents because the person, as the article points out, is someone close to the child or the family. Please, beleive your kids when they tell you something is up.

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            • http://Facebook Nickie

              So true G-Girrrrl, I was molested by several people in our church/cult!
              When I did tell my mom she didn’t believe me……
              I then plotted to kill the man who was coming over to fix the ceiling fan. I thought if I run around the table and hit the ladder it would fall. Knocking him down and he would break his neck and die. Then he couldn’t do it to me anymore. I ran and touched the ladder with my foot, I couldn’t go through with it! I knew it wasn’t something I could do, It was wrong. (I was only nine years old) A few other scum bags tried stuff, four total. Those kinds of cult like churches produce many Pedophiles. It really messed me up for a while. I went through therapy learned to deal with it, got married, had a child (I was so happy it wasn’t a girl I cried) and every day got better and stronger. I still get in a mood where no one can touch me, I mean NO ONE, but it doesn’t last long. My husband and son know what I went through and completely support me when I get like this. (Thank you God) my mom regrets to this day that she thought I made it up. How sad for her to feel that guilt all the time…..I like a lot of things about this post, I found it very helpful. If I would have had a daughter I would have been a terrible, paranoid, over protective MOM! I was already over protective with my boy. God new I couldn’t handle that! I hope everyone learns how to read the signs their children are showing them. That way they can keep their precious, innocent, little ones safe as possible!

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        • Katharine

          My friend was molested by her friend’s father while at the girl’s house for a sleepover. Parents who don’t want their children at sleepovers are perfectly justified in it. These were people her family had known for years. You never know what someone is really like until you are in a vulnerable position around them.

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      • Lady Lue

        My mom hardly ever let us go to sleepovers for the same reason. She was was always afraid that something would happen to her five girls.
        The irony in this though was that we ended up getting abused in our own home by a family member anyway!

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        • Lindsay

          That is actually very common. Predators tend to be people that already have access to your children.

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        • Natalie

          The same thing happened to me-never allowed to go to sleepovers for that reason, but a person who frequented our house was my abuser. When I began to be abused (age 4, possibly earlier) I became EXTREMELY withdrawn and quiet. My mom would always ask me was it the babysitters husband, was it this man, that man, etc. When I told her that it was her “friend” who used to come over all time (whom I later found out was actually my biological father) she didn’t do anything about it. The abuse continued and I told her again when I was older (age 6) and she didn’t do anything about it or believe me. A third time (age 11) I told her about it in real time. It woke me up in the middle of the night and I ran downstairs and told her immediately (she was up at night watching TV.)

          I remember we didn’t go to his house for a while but then a month later she tells me that we’re going over his house again. When I ask her why, she says that he explained to her that he wasn’t really touching me, and that I made a mistake and that I was dreaming (pretty much blaming me for everything.) She took me back to his house that day.

          To this day, I don’t think my mom really acknowledges what happened and she still has contact with him. She even recently invited him up to our apartment when I was home for summer break (age 21.)

          It is so important for moms to NOT be in denial and to PLEASE believe your children when they tell you someone is being inappropriate with them, no matter who it is.

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  • paul

    great article. but why does it always seem that males are targeted has a molester? Females molest children also.

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    • Mary

      Hi paul-
      Statistics show that men are overwhelmingly more likely to sexually abuse a child than women. I do, however, appreciate your point. We should protect our children from all potential abusers, not just men.
      For your information, homosexual men are, statistically, less likely to abuse a child (male or female).
      And let’s not forget those who live IN our homes. Many children are abused by a father or older brother or, yes paul, a mother. While most of you probably just had a very visceral “he would NEVER do that” response to that sentence, it is very often the reality.

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      • James Smith

        According to the department of health in 2010 approximately 40% of
        child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone, 18% were
        abused by both their mothers and fathers and only 19% were abused by
        their fathers alone. So no, men are not “overwhelmingly” more likely
        to abuse a child than a women. Quite the opposite in fact if you
        include all forms of abuse.

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        • Joanie

          Since children typically spend more time with their mother than father, that makes sense, but the article is talking about sexual abuse alone, not emotional or physical (violent) abuse which your statistics would include.

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        • TRacy

          I am thinking you are talking about emotional or physical abuse but not sexual. I would think it’s overwhelmingly male although not totally.

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        • Blythe Cady

          James, I think your statistics are perfectly accurate! However, those statistics were limited to mothers and fathers.

          On a worlwide basis, including all males and females whether teachers, day care employees, family friends, uncles, aunts etc., it is MUCH more prevalent for males to molest than females. Females do, but it’s not nearly as vast as males.

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        • Pat

          James Smith: What kind of “maltreatment” and “abuse” was the “department of health” reporting on? There are many kinds of abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse. The topic of THESE comments is sexual abuse of children. Is that the type of abuse the report you read was about? The figures you mention seem a little strange.

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      • Amy Brown

        You cannot use physical, verbal or emotional abuse in this scenario! That is skewing the numbers. So men STILL are the most likely to sexually abuse. I agree women are more likely to abuse in other ways, but that is NOT what this article is about. Goodness.

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      • Truthcaster

        100% of men who molest boys, and 100% of women who molest girls are homosexual.

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  • http://newlifenetworkpleasanthill.wordpress.com/ Kit Hill, Ed.D., LMFT

    It also seems that parents who were abused as children are more likely to set there kids up for being abused even though 99% of the time this is unconscious. Getting good counseling, recovery, a church small group and or having great friends to confide in deeply will help in resolving some these issues. Great post!!

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    • Liz

      How are you an Ed.D. when your grammar is appalling?!?

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      • EP

        you are completely rude. and it was a total waste of my time to read your 10 words of criticism. try posting something relevant. i fell sorry for your friends (if you have any) and family.

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    • Rhonda

      I’m curious as to where this information was gleaned from? As a survivor of over 9 years of sexual abuse by a trusted relative I can assure you that no one will ever touch my daughter. I would be very interested to know from which science journal or psychology journal that this information came from. 99%? Hmm…seems a bit of a high estimation don’t you think? While in this article it states matter of factly to use correct terminology for your child’s body parts and this is something that while I don’t do, I do realize I should and I can assure you that my child knows that no one is allowed to touch her special areas, not even her doctor.
      Maybe I am over-reacting a bit, but as a survivor, I find myself quite offended by the idea that someone feels that men and women would “set their children up” to be sexually abused and to go through the hell that they themselves went through.

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      • Isaac’s mom

        I take reports of child abuse by phone all day at work. Many women who were sexually abused end up trying to numb the trauma and pain of that with drugs. Being sexually abused also makes it harder for a womman to believe she is lovable just solely for who she is, not for sex or her body. This will often lead women to become involved with men who are damaged, who seem familiar to her (like her abuser), and who do not love well.

        If the women choose drugs and alcohol to cope with the trauma, that further reduces their capacity to protect their kids. These kids are often left with just anyone, often in drug houses, so the parents can go out and use.

        I know of many cases where a woman will stay with a known molester or with someone who has been accused of it. I know of many cases where the woman did not believe the child, probably because she did not want to be without the man. But three year olds don’t say “John put his pee pee in my butt” just for the heck of it. In fact, out of all kids, only 2% lie about sexual abuse.

        To the guy that wants to make this a gender issue. Get over yourself. It is a proven fact, more men sexually abuse children than women do. Yes, some women do sexually abuse kids but it is very rare. I have taken at least a thousand reports in recent months and in only one case did I take one about a woman sexually abusing kids. I took numerous reports about women letting it happen though.

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        • Pat

          Good post, Isaac’s Mom!

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      • Stacy

        Rhonda,

        I believe what the person sharing the statistic meant was that MOST (99%) of abusers are survivors of abuse, but clearly not all survivors abuse. If you think of the person who abused you, they were likely abused themselves (which in NO WAY excuses the abuse). It is a cycle – just like people who grow up in violent homes then swear that they will never do that to their children yet don’t know any other way without therapy and education, so they become violent too. There is hope for people to break the cycle when they actively recover from their abuse. It sounds like you are doing the right things – keep them up!

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    • https://www.facebook.com/pabirthessentials Nikki

      I, too, am quite interested in where exactly you’re getting this information. How exactly does one “set there kids up for being abused” I’m pretty sure that, although there are obvious ways to teach your children confidence and independence and boundaries there is no fool-proof way to avoid it and there are few ways to actually ENCOURAGE it short of actively abusing/introducing your child to an abuser.
      Your logic seems flawed and inflammatory.

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  • IProtectMyChildren

    I never let my boys spend the night out. I watch my boys as they play outside. My boys don’t travel with their coaches. I’m not over-protected just here to protect my boys until they can protect themselves. The worse thing could happen is someone sexual assault your child or any child.

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  • shirley miller

    It might be important to include warning to parents about people,usually trusted relative friend and grandpa and uncles, those you would least suspect,those that always wanting to roughhouse,or play with the children when there is a roomful of adult a d they act as though they have been appointed to entertain the children and totally ignore the adults that have come to visit them. When they interred when parents correct their children. It is very uncomfortable for all and makes me very suspicious.

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    • Akp

      I dont agree with this. There are actual good dads, uncles, etc who actually love spending time with kids for the right reasons, not because they are predators.

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      • siditty

        You might not agree with this, but the fact is, most children are abused by someone they know and trust. If your child is molested under the age of 6, there is a 49% chance the person who molests them is a family member. If your child is between 7-11, the rate goes down to 42%. I was molested by an uncle and older cousins. I know of a great uncle who got his own daughter pregnant and then later on, he went to prison for molesting his own grandchild from a different daughter. It isn’t just strangers. If people are willing to break the taboo of sexual contact with children, why would we think they would have an issue with incest?

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        • beenthere

          I think the point Akp was trying to make is that “not all children-friendly adults” are child molesters. I am sure that is true, in fact, it may be that “few” child-friendly adults are molesters. On the other hand, parents need to be mindful of things that might tip them off to a molester. Parents need to be cautious when leaving their child in the care of others. An attitude of “trust until you have a reason not to” is a recipe for disaster. Better to have an attitude of “trust only after fully vetted”, i.e. better safe than sorry. Parents can’t look only at whether the caretaker is a good person, they must also evaluate the person’s reliability to watch over and protect the child from others that might come around.

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        • Barbara

          I agree with “akp” and “beenthere”. The point akp was making is that not everyone who enjoys being with kids is a child molester, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable assuming this about everyone who likes kids. I married my husband in part because of how wonderful he is with children. He had nieces and nephews at the time, and all of them referred to them as their favorite uncle. We’ve known each other for 15 years and have been married for 8. He is the sweetest person ever. Very kind, very giving toward others. We have kids of our own now, and I know for a fact that there is no guile or desire to hurt anyone in him, much less a child. Skeptics on the internet will say that I must be “oblivious” to how he HAS to be, just HAS to be, a molester because of this. But I know better. Anyone who knows him knows better, and all the children he’s ever been around have loved him. Many are adults now, and he’s still considered their trusted friend. All I’m saying is, while I would do anything to protect my children from harm, I don’t think it’s right or fair to assume that everyone who loves children must also be a predator. I’m very cautious of new people, because we all have to be. And I wouldn’t leave my child in the care of any relative. I feel I know them, but you never can tell. All that and still, I don’t assume it about anyone who’s friendly with children.

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    • Survivor

      My father is a pedophile, now in prison. He always rough-housed with my friends and cousins. Everyone thought he was a wonderful uncle who just loved kids; the truth was that he was grooming is for sexual abuse, which came later. I am extremely cautious about my kids being around adults, and I watch for this grooming behavior.

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    • https://www.facebook.com/pabirthessentials Nikki

      I agree entirely. As a child a myself and a few cousins of mine were abused by an older family member. He was always playing games with us, rough-housing, and acted very concerned about us and our emotional well-being. That’s not to say that there’s no such thing as a goofball uncle who wants to play with the kids, just that you always need to be careful.

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  • http://www.jmccoylee.com J’son Lee

    Thank you so much for this frank and informative post. As a survivor, your thoughts were dead on. We have to protect our kids even at the risk of appearing over-protective. Our kids deserve the opportunity to be kids.

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  • Chad

    With the understanding that most abuse occurs at the hands of a non-stranger, kids need to learn safety with strangers too. Growing up, we were taught to never talk to strangers, and if someone is bothering you, find a police officer. I teach my kids that it’s ok to TALK to strangers, but never ever ever go anywhere – ANYWHERE – with them. We also have a password that the kids are not permitted to tell anyone, period; if a stranger comes up to them and says come with me, your mom is waiting outside the store, the kids will ask him for the password. If he doesn’t know it, he’s lying. And finally, if someone’s bothering you, find a nice-looking mom or grandma. Yes, there are women who abuse kids too, but statistically, a randomly-chosen competent-looking woman is likely much safer than a man who is already behaving in a way that seems wrong.

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  • Anna

    You’re completely right. The whole “Go and give grandpa a kiss” thing was always uncomfortable to me and I never did it. I never really got in trouble for not hugging someone, but my relatives thought I was a brat because of it. My mom still does it to my niece and nephew. She took them to see my grandfather before he died, and asked them to hold his hand. My nephew did it, and niece did not. She refused to even look at him and go in the same room. Why? She said “I don’t trust him.” My niece is a very intuitive girl, and I love that she was honest and trusted herself. I will have to try my best to help my nephew trust himself as well when things look shady… because my grandfather, that man was a monster.

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    • Tiffany

      It does have to do with economic class, and black Americans unproportionally make up a large part of the U.S lower class.

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  • http://Swanofdreamers.blogspot.com Shell

    An insightful post. I especially like the last one. It is important to look out for other kids as well. Something that has crossed my mind when I see other children about with parents who seem not connected with their kids at all.

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  • Erik

    I was hoping you could elaborate more on why black children are more likely to be abused. Is it more likely because of the single parents issue, the social environment in which they are raised? I also wanted to know if there are any stats on the race who these children are mainly being abused by? I personally think it’s absurd to say, and don’t feel that it has anything to do with the color of your skin, making a person more prone to sexual abuse. I’m no expert by any means but I think it would have to do more with the economic class in which the person is raised than their race. Last thought and then i’ll zip it. I think that stats on gender of the abusers is very misleading. I had older foster sisters growing up that would do things to me that would be considered abuse. At the time I felt like it was fine because “that’s what guys do” mentality. Not until talking to my wife about it years later did i realize it was abusive.

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    • Erik

      all just my personal feelings.

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    • Protectourchildren

      I don’t think the stats are misleading. Women obviously abuse (sorry what happened to you) it’s just that the overwhelming majority of incidents are with men. Also, regarding African Americans (I am AA) I think that stats are stats and if it’s true then we should determine why it’s happening and how to protect our children.

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    • siditty

      I think it happens more in black communities do to class and due ro social stigmas about sex. How many have heard stories about grown men locked up for statutory rape and we protect them, rather than the child? We dismiss her as a liar or say she was “fast”,or that he was “trapped”. We also aren’t quick to reach out to the police when something happens, because we often feel nothing will come of it.

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    • Shani

      Black children are more likely to be abused for having cultural norms that go against a lot of the no-no’s on this list.
      1. My mother didn’t do this but there many black people have a stigma about using anatomically correct names for vagina and penis. #1 & #2 were also common for bodily functions urinate and defacate. If anatomical names are turn offs for predators, black children would make it easier for a predator.

      2. Refusing to show affection to elders when commanded is often considered a sign of disrespect. We have the whole authoritarian parent thing which gives our children little autonomy, little ability to say no. So they can’t say no when someone touches them inappropriately. They’ve been trained to always say yes to adults…

      3. Lots of pressure to “be good” in the black community, and sometimes when you have an authoritarian as a parent, when out of sight the children choose to disobey any opportunity that they can. Sometimes that is with a relationship with someone who is nice, kind and understands them… see the picture I’m painting here…

      4. Parents working long hours at many jobs leading us to have a less communicative relationship with our children, the loss of connection and deep relationship leads our children to confide less in us.

      5. We have huge families with many extended cousins/uncles and are not allowed to say no to or otherwise disobey adults.

      6. We have a lot of emotional baggage. Some from just being black in this country… the apparent hopelessness of the situation, some from poverty…

      Whatever the cause these 6 things lead us to be a sexual abuse strong hold.

      THEN even if abuse IS reported, family is reluctant to send a “good” black man to jail… They don’t want to believe it, they deny it. Same goes for moms where the abuser is the father or boyfriend. Poverty sometimes has them keep their mouth shut when the abuser is providing food, shelter etc for the rest of the family. If the mom was abused she may not thing anything wrong with it.

      The list goes on. It’s not color of skin, it’s culture. Great things about being black. This stuff is what I work on with my son… improving on the giant steps my mother gave to me

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  • Protectourchildren

    I think we should focus on the reality and not get offended regarding whether it’s mostly male or female. If it’s mostly male, it’s mostly male. These are great tips and I will save this article.

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  • LadyGaga

    7. Don’t have sex with your kids.

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  • James_da_great

    I love the end of #5, “A man that is interested in me romantically should be interested in me, not my kids.” These ladies have to be careful because the molesters types are some of the sweetest guys. Ask yourself the simple question, “Why the hell is this ‘perfect’ man trying to get with a woman with kids already?” There are so many available attractive women out there, don’t be naive. A man instinctively wants to plant HIS seed, not water another mans fruits. If he can have kids but doesn’t and he’s trying to get with you and your 2+ kids, that is a warning flag. Check their history, interview ex-girlfriends, and family members before you start letting him interact with your kids; even then be careful. Also, remember gift-givers. Dudes who are always giving gifts to your kids. The key to dealing with this behavior is being blunt and assertive. Do not perform ______ behavior because I am a very protective parent. There is no thin line when it comes to single parenthood and new relationships. If they can’t handle a little distance and clear-cut boundaries, they can’t handle any relationship because all relationships have boundaries. I’m not saying there are no good men out there for single mothers I’m just saying your options drop with each child you have.

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    • Wisdom

      Very well written article.

      I did a few interviews with Christian therapists a few years ago regarding sexual abuse. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse .

      My heart goes out to victims of sexual
      And I just want all survivors young and old MaLe and Female. That I love you. You are still a star.

      Motivated me to be a movement for sexual abuse in the black church and community.

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  • Mike

    #6.5 is ridiculous.

    Hey, go look for the loneliest, most neglected kid in the neighborhood, and invite him to your house alone to watch TV.

    Yeah, that’s going to go well. FACEPALM.

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    • Asia Williams

      The advice to invite a neglected child into your home to watch tv seems to go against the (mostly) good advice from the author! While Its great to show concern for neglected/poorly supervised kids in your neighborhood, I would NEVER invite a child into my home without their parent’s permission!! I think a better idea would be to maybe have them help you with an outside chore (gardening, washing your car) or you could sit OUTSIDE on your steps/porch and talk to them 🙂

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      • thatgirl

        ^^that exactly there is a whole group of kids on y street whose aprents are never around i will bring the dog outside and they will “help train” the dog to keep calm around kids (my dog is already calm around kids haha well unless htere is a tennis ball involved) many times i will sit outside and have a coffee and talk on the phone to friends who know the situation on my road (parents never home no state laws on age they can be left alone etc) and just sit astonished considering the oldest is 10… i could NEVER EVER imagine leaving a child that young alone to play in the streets while no one was there watching them. i’ve had the kids come knock on my door when the bully kids come out (so that they dont start shit ) so i will sit on my oprch with my little guy (who is only 8 months old i might add!) and our dog and they will play with the dog they know that i’m the safe spot because i have stood up for them before when their parents couldnt be home, the one familyt he oldest sister (in her teens) watches them but at the same time she is a younger teen and im willing to place bets she wouldnt know what to do in a situation without havign an adult there to help her either.

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  • J

    7. Monitor your children’s TV and internet use CLOSELY. It is insane how much sexuality your children can be exposed to through the media. The computer should be in a public area and so should the TV. There is also software to help monitor explicit content.

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  • J

    8. And teach your child not to COMMIT sexual abuse. Especially your boys.

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  • Kg

    How are you supposed to handle your child being sexually abused by another child? Unfortunately a lot of sexual abuse comes from children peers!

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    • A mom

      The same way you handle abuse by an adult: report it to the authorities and get your child counseling. Children who abuse generally are victims of abuse and become perpetrators without any malicious intent. Reporting it gives them the best opportunity for rehab before they become adult perpetrators.

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  • Pingback: Tuesday Wrap Up | Sex with Timaree()

  • http://beautyandthebumpnyc.com Kim

    Great post. I agree with referring to your child’s private parts as their real names. I do that with my daughter. My husband doesn’t care for it.

    The same with forcing children to hug or kiss someone. It may seem rude, but, you still have to value the child’s personal space. If my daughter doesn’t want to hug someone that’s fine. If she doesn’t say hi then that’s rude.

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  • Fran

    Expanding on #5…I always told my young daughters when they were growing up that inappropriate touching can also be done by a father, a grandfather, an uncle, a brother or a teenager or even a female that they (and Mommy and Daddy) might know. If any hugging or touching by ANYONE makes them feel uncomfortable, then to come and tell me.

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  • Dejah

    All true. My husband, who I thought was my best friend and the love of my life, was molesting my daughter for three years. We were friends for two years before we even dated;(

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  • Maggie

    Thank you for posting. As someone who went through years of sexual abuse and incest, I freaked out when I found out I was having a baby, let alone a girl. I was seriously wondering how I was going to talk to her about the warning signs of these kind of people. I’m still curious as to how young I would have to talk to her. You can’t trust anyone out there.

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    • Heather

      Maggie, start talking to her as soon as she can understand. If she can hold a conversation with you, she can understand. “If anyone touches your vagina, you tell Mommy.” They are NEVER to young.

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      • Joanie

        Let’s go back to the topic of using correct terminology for our body parts. It does no good to tell a little girl about her vagina, which is internal and she cannot even see it, if you don’t also tell her about her vulva or labia on the outside of her body, which she can see and feel, and explaining how the two are related.

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  • http://n/a SavtainSanDiego

    I have a female friend who said she was molested by her own mother for many years. Her mother was what most people would consider a “refined” lady holding a high-ranking governmental job. My friend said back in those days (1950’s) nobody would have believed her so she never told anyone. Only recently has she been able to deal with it.

    Children need to gain our trust and need to be taught personal safely at a young age. Young children should be taught that nobody is allowed to touch them on any part of their body that is normally covered when wearing a swimsuit. They also need to know how to deal with someone (teen/adult) who suggests playing a game and telling them “this is our little secret.” Your children need to inform you about verbal, physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. If you develop a healthy relationship with your children – open dialog, listen empathetically – they will trust you and share experiences with you.

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  • KdMommaOf3

    I believe a lot of the time the abuse isn’t reported. I was sexually molested at the age 8, by my sister’s boyfriend. I told my mom and it stopped, but it wasn’t reported. We were going to report it but the officer told my mom that it won’t do anything cause he was 16yrs old. He went on to molest other children (boys and girls) all under 12yrs old. He was arrested in 2008 (he was 30something) for multiple counts of sexually abusing 15 or more children(that doesnt even count the other kids that never told). Thank you for saying its not my fault for a long time I blamed myself and felt guilty for what happened to me. I didn’t want to get in trouble so the sexual abuse went on for a few years. Now that I’m an adult I know it wasn’t my fault! People say I’m over protective when it comes to my children, but I think I’m just doing my job as a parent.

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  • Tough Mommy

    I never thought my husband of 10 years would abuse our biological children…it never ever crossed my mind.
    Bewilderd? Blind-sighted? Baffled? My body has never felt the shock, disgust, denial, sadness, confusion, and complete and utter sorrow the day and months after finding out what was going on. Before I found out what was happening under our/my roof I thought I was overprotective. I taught my daughter to say vagina and but and penis too (if I didn’t she may have never disclosed-and yes I believed her 100% and told her how awesome she was to tell me). No sleepovers, no leaving the girls with just someone else’s father, no unsupervised uncle could watch them. My fucking husband was doing it!!!! I am divorced now…he is waiting for trail to serve a life sentence and I don’t plan to see him unless its in court. If anyone reads this and it is happening to them there is support and please call CPS or 911 or tell someone who can help. It’s not your fault and please attempt to save their next victim. look @ mosac.com

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  • rosarunner

    This topic caught my attention fast because when I become a parent, I want to be able to protect my kids or my god-kids in the future. The one I’m very familiar with was #5. My mom did not date a lot of men when I was young, but if she was dating she wouldn’t really bring a man over. My mom was very protective of me and my sister. I was also protective towards my mom when she was dating, but she did a great job not letting them get to close to us.

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  • Mother of 3 girls

    Thank you for the article. And THANK YOU to all the people who have commented here and shared their insight & personal experiences despite tremendous suffering. Please keep sharing your wisdom because this is critical to saving humanity. You are absolute SUPER-HEROES. <3

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  • http://yahoo David M. Hughes

    Most people don’t realize that abused folks do and should go on with their lives. Sadly , when their in a loving relationship ,the sex violator peaks within their heart and says ( sex is dirty) Many normal girls are turned off to their loving husbands and they frequently take ( being Dirty to the grave. So many times husbands and even there children, must pick up the pieces. Only God can forgive and love a molestor. I know I cannot.

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  • Relatable

    This is such wonderful advice for parents, future parents, and any adults who care about the children in their lives. I can attest that it is very true. I was sexually abused by a relative that I looked up to and loved. My mother had a substance abuse problem and was very emotionally immature, so she turned to me to be the adult and make her happy. I was neglected and not paid much attention to, which resulted in low self esteem and becoming even more of a target. I was manipulated with the concept of “being good” and still struggle with being assertive and resisting trying to be a people pleaser. I am working through it, but have been diagnosed with depression-anxiety-post traumatic stress disorder-OCD- and body dysmorphic disorder. I recall my parents not using correct anatomical terms and being unwilling to frankly answer questions when I was quite young. As I read this article, I was nodding, “yes”, “yes”, “of course”, “right – that makes sense”. This is invaluable, practical advice. Because of my terrible childhood, I care so much about providing my future children with safety and an environment where they can thrive. I will keep this for the future and would plead that all parents take it quite seriously.

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  • Mom of 2

    I too was abused for years by multiple people. I have only told very few people. My mom taught me and my brother our parts, and was very open about what was appropriate and what was not appropriate. She also told me that if anyone ever did anything involving mine or their parts that I wasn’t comfortable with to tell her. She would also randomly ask me very calmly if anyone had, and I always said no. That is one of my biggest fears with my children. I had the knowledge and the opportunities to tell and I didn’t. I don’t know why, and I wish I had. It was never by adults from what I remember. It was always my mom’s friend’s sons that were acouple of years older than me to 12 years older than me, and even my older cousin. I am now very protective and watchful of my children, even around tyeir grandparents, uncles,my husband, etc. One of the only people I trust completely is my mom. I hate that I can’t trust my husband as a wife should, but you never know. Just learn the cues incase they are still too scared to tell.

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  • Mom of 2

    I was also raped as a teenager. I didn’t think it was rape and I think that was because of the abuse. I said no, but I didn’t kick and scream and fight which is why I didn’t think it was rape. I did not consent or give them a reason to think I was interested in them. I basically shut down and just let it happen. I’ve still never told anyone.

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    • Nena

      =( I am so sorry that happened to you. I went through that, too. <3

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    • KdMommaOf3

      I had that happen to me too :'(

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    • Joanie

      It is a healthy start that you have talked about it here. I hope that sometime in the near future, you’ll be able to find someone safe to confide in.

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  • Olli

    Points 1-4 are great. But I cannot follow the reasoning of points 5,6, and 7. So adults are supposed to feel most comfortable with adults? Au contraire, mom frere! Our entire system of natural reproduction and procreation is based on the natural drive that adults will want to have children in their lives, spend time with them, be with them and care for them. If that was not so, we’d soon be extinct. It’s normal for an adult to enjoy children. That’s why we become parents or adopt. Point 5 warns against people who appear to be eager to spend time with neglected, weak, isolated children and point 7 (or 6 1/2) then encourages you to become exactly such a person. How contradictory is that? Who would ever in their right mind want to invite a deprived child to their home if such activity is being associated with the pedophile fringe?

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  • http://www.bayareaintactivists.org Jonathon Conte

    Another way to strengthen children’s sense of bodily autonomy is not to subject them to forced genital cutting to suit the cultural or religious beliefs of others. Whether male, female, or intersex, all individuals have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies and that includes deciding whether or not healthy pieces of it are cut off.

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    • mike

      Hmm I was circumsized, therefore I am more likely to be abused.

      Seriously? Is that what you are saying?

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  • Jason

    Why would you post all of this great information, and then tell people to invite a kid from down the street into your home?
    That doesn’t make sense at all, who are you to invite a kid from down the street inside your house?
    Even if you are safe if you invited my kid into your home I would be pressing charges and doing anything I could to see if you were a child predator.
    Every piece of advice is good except 6.5.
    Think that over and I suggest writing another article.
    Even if you think your safe there are better ways to handle that type of situation where the parents are ” neglecting” their child. If you feel the need to intervene don’t get the child familiar with strangers inviting them into their house and feeling comfortable.
    Follow your own advice.

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  • Sharon

    When my boys were growing up the only sleepovers were at my place I knew where they were and with who. More work but safe children and being in a small community I just put the word out about my guns & willing to serve time to protect any child.
    && if you work caring for children gives you no right to be rude and obnoxious towards men. Most abusive women are never reported because the family can’t believe it or don’t want their son to suffer the embarrassment or label.
    I have all sons and am tired of men being put down as women are no angels either and feel it is high time men receive help and boys protection in a world that laughs at them for suffering because they should be ‘men’

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  • Dannette

    Thank you for this post. As a survivor, I find the discussion triggering and debated whether or not I should even read it. But, I am a mom now and I have anxiety at times about keeping my kids safe from abuse. I found the tips helpful.

    I, too, find the last suggestion a little contradictory. I think, if what you mean to say is that we adults should be mindful of other children who are particularly vulnerable, that makes sense to me. And if you mean to say we should engage those children and let them know adults care and are paying attention, that’s fine, too. But, all that about inviting them into your home, etc. is a little strange and could be seen as inappropriate. Just my thinking.

    Thanks.

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  • Susan

    I agree with all the points you make in your article, but single dads need to be just as careful as single moms! As a young boy my fiance went to live with his dad who had just remarried. All the adults involved thought it was a more stable situation than a young boy living with just his dad or with his single mother, but my fiance ended up being mentally and verbally abused by his new step-mother and sexually abused by his new teenage step-brother.

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  • http://scruggbugcorner.com Herchel S

    Excellent information that most people (myself included) would never consider in regards to sexual abuse. It brings to mind the discomfort (humorously so) in the “boys have a penis and girls have a vagina” scene in the movie Kindergarten Cop.

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  • http://www.LaurieACouture.com Laurie A. Couture

    The 1 in 4 and 1 in 6 is a myth. Boys are EQUALLY at risk for sexual abuse and in fact, Dr. Murray Straus’ research has found that boys in the USA suffer slightly more sexual abuse than girls. Women make up a very high percentage of perpetrators of boys. The best way to protect your children from sexual abuse is to stop using false stats and gender bias that put children, especially boys, at risk.

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  • Hope

    Thank you so much for this. I know a few people that have been abused, and now I have a daughter of my own. I get a lot of crap for being over the top at who I hang around with and not letting anyone but family watch her. But this has made me feel better in knowing I am doing so much good for her. That is my biggest fear. Thank you. And we do say vagina

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    • Joanie

      Let’s go back to the topic of using correct terminology for our body parts. It does no good to tell a little girl about her vagina, which is internal and she cannot even see it, if you don’t also tell her about her vulva or labia on the outside of her body, which she can see and feel, and explaining how the two are related.

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  • K

    Something to keep in mind, too, if a child suddenly has a negative change in attitude toward a particular person, that is a gigantic red flag. It was disregarded in my own case, either out of ignorance or denial. I’ll never know which unless I decide to confront some people.

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  • http://www.themomonthemove.com Anitra

    This is an AWESOME post that all parents should read. Not because I agree with it 100%, although I do agree with the all the premises. But because we have been so conditioned to follow the patterns of our parents and caregivers that we can inadvertently recreate the very situation we are trying to avoid, not just in relation to abuse, but in parenting in general.

    Also, as many of the commenters have stated, when there is a big age difference between your children you should watch closely for the signs. Older siblings can become unintentional sexual abusers because their natural intrigue and develop far exceed that of the younger, trusting, idolizing sibling at their disposal. This is a very difficult situation for parents to deal with when the abuser and the victim are siblings. Do yourself a favor and watch for the signs: frequent touch and displays of affection, extended periods of time together with no signs of disruption, the frequent reappearance of other children once they have all gone off to play, older children playing house or sleeping in the same room with younger children.

    Again, excellent post. I will be sharing the link on my own blog.

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  • aslanRoars

    it’s sad to tell here that i maybe guilty of item#2. i often tell my kids, ages 12, 8, and 4, to go and give their grannies a kiss and a hug. My parents (early 80s) moved with us since about a year ago… i took it as opportunity to take care of them. I always had this idea of teaching our children of respecting and loving the elderlies, and always encouraged them to give them a kiss especially before they (my parents) go to bed… i realized that there may be something wrong here… thanks for this post… i quickly texted my wife at home about this and maybe we can talk about it more when i arrive home later… many many thanks!!!

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  • M

    what wood be the proper age to start talking to our children about their private parts

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    • Momto3

      I started young. In the bath I would say “I’m washing your left hand, your left food, your penis” so that it was just a part of learning their body parts.

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    • Joanie

      Yes, start very young! If ALL body parts are called by their proper names right from birth, the child will grow up being comfortable with those words and know what they mean. Talk about body parts when changing diapers, when bathing them, and just in normal conversation whenever it comes up.

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  • http://Www.hirukocenter.com Natalia

    Great post! As a safety and self defense teacher I also want to recommend a Kidpower class (www.kidpower.org) to everyone. It’s by far the most robust, positive, info packed, full examples and practices class. My 8 yr old kid takes it once a year, and will do so till he can take Teenpower, which I also highly recommend.

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  • Janine

    As a 63yr old incest survivor with too many perpetrators, I am so sad to see the abuse escalating in our world. Please, put your kids first in your life. Turn off the tv’s and computers, sit and TALK to your young ones. Read books together, teach them the old songs and sing together while you do dishes together! Key word, TOGETHER!!! Your relationship with them is your best defense.

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  • http://www.redsaidwhat.com Jennifer Reinharz

    As a teacher, mother, and a survivor, I think your post was right on the money. In addition, I think we need to empower our children to speak up about their rights and bodies. Below is a book that I found to be a useful tool when teaching my children. I had an opportunity to hear the author speak.

    Inoculating your children against Sexual Abuse: What every parent should know! By Norman E. Friedman.

    Keep up the good work!

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  • Jolie

    This post makes me sad and also angry. Here’s why: “black children are almost twice as likely to be abused sexually than children of other races” –> I think, it is important that ALL children, wherever they come from and whatever their skin colour might be, are protected from abuse. Even if there are statistics, that black children are more likely to be abused (and I have not seen that statistic in the post) I think it is racist and weirdly exclusive to tell only one specific group of mothers to protect their children. 2. “I can understand why a mother would see a potential mate who seems to be excited about meeting her children and really friendly towards them as a positive. I personally would see that as a red flag. A man that is interested in me romantically should be interested in me, not my kids.” –> Excuse me? If someone, no, “A MAN”, is interested in children and behaves friendly towards them, he is to be seen as a threat or “red flag”? Seriously? And he should NOT be interested in the children of the woman he is dating? I, personally, think, you should not date someone, who is NOT interested in your children. And I mean interested in a good way. In a way that it is a person, who likes children, (needless to say, not sexually), who enjoys playing with them, hearing their stories from kindergarden or school, looking after them if you have an appointment a.s.o. Secondly- WHY only ‘mothers who protect their children’ and ‘men, who endanger them?’ As if men were brutal animals who are the only ones who are a potential threat to children and as if there are only mothers caring for children. What about the (single) dads out there? Why does this post not adress them, too? Also, it is not only men, who abuse children. The sad truth is, there are also women out there, who abuse children. So, it is not only dangerous men, that parents have to protect their children from. I think that DeAnna’s view is one-sided, it seems slightly racist and very sexist. She does have some very good points in the beginning (like frequently talking to your child, using the right terms for genitals, not forcing them to be affectionate with others…) but it irritates me, that she then only seems to be adressing (black) mothers and that the enemies of the children of these women seem to be only men in her eyes.

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    • Baby and Blog

      Jolie,

      If the fact that this post is directed at black mothers troubles you, then you are in the WRONG place. This blog is unapologetically for and by black mothers. This post has gone viral over the past several weeks, so we’ve had many non-black visitors to this site, which we welcome, but there must be a RESPECT for what this space is and what it represents.

      I started this space back in June because there are so few black mom blogs out there. I had my son in September 2012 and felt that there really was no online community for black mothers like myself.

      Because of the unique history of blacks in America, there are several aspects of parenting that are unique to us. Of course there are also things that are general to all mothers — breastfeeding, finding good schools, etc. But other things, like hair care and skin care, dealing with profiling and race-based bullying, and yes the high incidents of sexual abuse in our community, are unique to our experience.

      So please know that your comment is certainly inappropriate for this space. Perhaps you should have looked at the “About” page before you decided to comment.

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      • MrodNYC

        This is off topic, but after scrolling through the comments and liking and disliking some I noticed that your thumbs up/down feature might have a glitch.. perhaps you could look into it?

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  • vm

    You never mentioned anything about children with disabilities. That happens at a high percentage as well.

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  • Erica

    Thanks for the article. Sexual abuse ran Ramos in my family and I’ve been coincided for more than half my life for what happened to my siblings and cousins. I’ve learned a lot but am pleasantly surprised that there were some new tips for me to learn here. I would only add to the point about under age a users that the child doing the abusing is sometimes even younger – a toddler even – who was abused themselves and doesn’t understand what happened/is happening to them. They act out on other children to try to recreate their experience as a means to understanding it. This is how it spread in my family. We were always over our Aunts and Uncles’ houses with our cousins and our parents would never have thought this was happening behind closed doors. Neither did I since I wasn’t affected directly. Parents need to check in on their kids. Don’t cast blame just get both of the children involved some help.

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  • Jeni

    Does not matter the statistics, protect your kids point blank, bottom line!

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  • Jolie

    I can definitely see, why topics like hair care etc. is something interesting as a topic to talk about specifically between black people (from what I’ve heard and seen from my black friends about their hair care which seems to be quite different to the hair care of white people) and you are right in saying that I should have considered the adressees of this website. But I do not agree that my whole comment is inappropriate for this page, because your post adresses topics, which are not only relevant for black mums and since it is public and therefore open for everyone to be seen, read and commented on, I do not see why one should not do so, if they feel that groups of people are unjustly judged, criticised and even incriminated. I think, this post is sexist against men and if I find it on a friend’s fb page and read it and am upset afterwards, I do think that I should be able to speak my mind about it, even if I am not a black mum. I just don’t think, that it’s a topic like discussing skin care. It is a topic that affects everyone and therefore can be discussed by everyone. If you write something this explosive and it “goes viral”, as you said, you should also be ready to discuss it with other people than the members of the “community” or page.. Where did you read, that black children are more endangered to become victims of abuse? I would be interested in the statistics (honestly, I am not saying this to provoke), since I have never heard about it.. I apologize for not having checked the “About”, but I stick to my critique towards the part against men as the sole threat and abusers- women can be abusers as well. And boys are almost as often abused as girls. http://www.safehorizon.org/index/what-we-do-2/child-abuse–incest-55/child-abuse-statistics–facts-304.html I just think that it is not right to victimize one side and incriminate another..I think, all possibilities should be carefully considered. I do absolutely not have a problem with this blog in general and I absolutely understand why it is important to discuss topics, which only affect a certain group of adressees exclusively. I just do not agree that abuse is one of these exclusive topics and I certainly do not agree that in whichever location or blog, there should be racism or sexism. I’m sorry, if I misinterpreted something but this is, how I understood parts of your post. Thank you for replying right away.

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  • http://www.toughangels.org Patricia Michael Melnice

    Some great advice in this article, although the stats aren’t current. In my opinion, these numbers are still conservative, but latest studies report globally, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will experience gender based sexual violence. The hard reality is only 1 in 9 will ever report the abuse so we are still only factoring in a fraction of actual victims.

    I agree completely with teaching children about their body parts and allowing a child to be respected for their decisions about their own personal space – e.g. not forcing the child to hug or kiss an adult. And keeping a watchful eye out for children is of course, a given.

    In my work, http://www.toughangels.org, I’m hearing more and more about men being raped, both as adults and children. The stigma attached with male rape silences these victims, often for a lifetime, (not unlike a lot of women). I suggest we have missed a whole population of victims by making assumptions that this is a rare occurrence for boys and men. I am mildly concerned we are making monsters out of well meaning and loving men however, who show genuine interest in children. I was raised with brothers that even as grown men will get down on the floor to play trucks or tea party with little kids and I can assure you, they are gentle giants that have nothing but respect for children. I observe healthy behavior like this and am grateful there are strong male figures that take the time to even acknowledge a child is in the room. Further, if I were dating a man, he had better think my children hung the moon or there wouldn’t be another date.

    The truth is we need men to engage in dialogue about child abuse, rape and violence and that’s hard to do when we’re pointing fingers at them and demonizing them. We can accomplish nothing in this dilemma, (and it is a growing dilemma), if we alienate men. Instead, it would be helpful to have discussions about what consensual sex is, which seems self-explanatory, but the truth is, it’s a concept few can clearly and accurately define. Many still think the word rape refers to an act that happens in a dark alley with a knife to your throat. The reality is most rapes are acquaintance rapes, and in my personal experience of research, the perpetrator rarely defines it as rape unless it involves violence. This is a good place to start . . . awareness about consensual sex for adults. How can we expect children to feel safe and protected when we as adults don’t even know how to define or talk about our own boundaries? The fact is, we can’t stop sexual abuse until we’re willing to talk about it and collectively come to the table in the spirit of healing. Thank you for this article. It engages people in conversation and awareness and this is how we effect change. It is imperative we bring sexual abuse out of the closet where it lurks and continues to threaten it’s victims into silence. Thank you!

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  • Christine

    Kuddos! I think that it is awesome when I see articles about what parents can do to stop child molestation. I think that it is such a touchy subject to some people that no one ever wants to talk about it because they just don’t know what to say! As an abused child, I completely agree with what is said in this article. I was molested by a babysitter who my mother hired and was an older man, but he had me so scared to say anything to my mother. I was also molested by my step dad who I completely trusted from the age of 9 to the age of 17. And when I told her about it, I was accused of lying or taking it as a misunderstanding! I read this article and wonder if my mom had done any of this if it would have changed the outcome! At this point in my life I am really not sure. I was absolutely terrified by this mam, and when you are dealing with fear, it is almost inevitable that no matter how open you are with your parents, if your life and your family’s life is threatened, you will still obey their orders and keep secrets! And I completely understand that this message is building a foundation and won’t stop all of it! I was just simply explaining my view of it. I am completely open and honest with my children and we talk about this subject ALOT! My daughter is now 12 and my son is 7. Both of them are fully aware of every aspect of molestation by the time that they were 4. So, they are fully aware of what is right and wrong! Don’t be afraid to talk about it a lot, because the more you talk about it, the easier it is. That way if it does ever happen, then the children are not so afraid to open up about what happened. Awareness is communication!

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  • Natalie

    Thank you for talking about this difficult issue so candidly – the insights you’ve shared are right on and need to be discussed openly. I’d like to add one extremely important thing- I know this is a delicate subject and a lot of people won’t agree with me, but I’ll just say it and let it be out there: #7- Never use any kind of physical punishment to “discipline” a child. It is not possible to teach a child that her body is her own and that no one has the right to violate it, when physical violation (in the form of purposely-inflicted pain/discomfort) is used as behavior modification by the very people whose job it is to keep her safe, secure, and protected. I strongly believe that there is an element of sexual abuse to some types of physical punishment, and at least some connection between sexual abuse and ANY kind of physical punishment, as they both involve disregarding a child’s physical boundaries – of course most parents who utilize physical measures as consequences for behavior don’t see it this way and absolutely have no such intentions, and would never resort to physical punishment if they saw any connection, but what matters is how the child perceives it – and to the child, it is a blatant violation of his body; an unwanted physical act forced upon him. Children don’t earn or grow into the right to govern their own bodies and set their own physical limits; they are born with that right, and it is the sacred duty of a child’s adult caregivers to fiercely protect that right.

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  • Brittney

    I like the part about not making children give kisses and hugs unless they want. My parents never made me and I do not make my daughter show affection unless she wants to. When I was thirteen fourteen yrs old I stayed with a friends dad and his girlfriend lives there also he said inappropriate things to me and his daughter and always wanted to give us hugs offered us beer. I’m so very glad that I was outspoken teen and never felt like I had to be ” good ” I never would give him a hug and I would say yuk or argue with him on topics of dating young girls. I’m glad my child is very outspoken as well I feel like this saved me from something that could have happend to me.

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  • Naomi Landry

    Another thing that we need to keep in mind when trying to protect our precious children is to make sure that the kids KNOW that no one can ever hurt mommy and daddy, even if they say they can.

    Abusers will often threaten to hurt the child or their loved ones if they tell anyone about the abuse. Kids need to know that even if someone says they can hurt them or mommy and daddy that is not true, and that if someone ever says ANYTHING like that the child needs to tell the parent right away.

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  • StopBlamingVictims

    WOW, nice Victim Blaming in this article. It isnt up to parents to protect their children from rape. Its up to the rapists not to rape! Stop Blaming The Victims!

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    • MrodNYC

      God, you’re an idiot. She’s not victim blaming, she’s giving parents a better understanding of situations/behavior that would make their children vulnerable to predators as well as offering advice on how to keep your children communicating with you. I love how you trolls come out of the woodwork and try to twist the words of good people to suit your own petty agendas. GTFOH. Seriously.

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  • MrodNYC

    Thank you for this article.

    I dealt with abuse as a child and it angers me every time I think about it. And now that I have a newborn son the idea of something like that happening to him ..well I can only contemplate murder ..Your article is really informative and I will be taking a lot of it to heart. Thanks you. Sincerely.

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    • Wisdom

      Congrats on you’re newborn son!! Now leave me alone!

      Liar

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  • MamaJen

    I read somewhere that a little girl that was sexally abused did not tell her parents because she would often hear from her father that if anyone hurt her, he would “kill them”. This little girl’s rationalization was that if she told her parents she was being sexually abused, her dad would kill the person responsible and therefore end up in jail for doing so and she did not want her dad to go to prison.
    Just something that I have personally discussed with my husband about not saying in front of our children.

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  • yacov

    Great points in this article. Will be sure to bring this up with my wife. However at the end the author suggests parents with substance abuse atend AA or NA. Both of these organizations are dilled with sexual predators. The program preaches the opposite if what the article encourages. Namely powerlessness, obedience to sponsors, secrecy, etc. These organizations are also notorious for making excuses and covering up crimes committed by their members. Check out this blog for more information. http://stop13stepinaa.wordpress.com

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  • Heather

    Thank you very much for posting this. I found #6 especially relevant, “Don’t make your children responsible for your emotional baggage (and we’ve all got baggage.) They are not psychologically equipped to deal with it.” As a survivor who went many years without telling my parents, this really spoke to me. I was my mother’s confidant regarding her marriage, and was told too much as a child that I didn’t need to know, about my parent’s marriage, my mother’s ex-husband who was a “bad man” who wanted to hurt my mom, etc. I was supposed to be there for my parents emotionally, but they weren’t there for me. It is 25 years later and I am finally telling my parents that they neglected my needs and weren’t there the way I needed them to be. Maybe if, instead of talking to me about their marriage, they asked how I was, I would have told earlier.

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  • menotti8

    I think you should call this post “6 ways to raise an undisciplined, disrespectful brat who will probably end up in prison later on in life” because these are the most absurdly illogical pop-psychology suggestions I’ve ever read. Where do you even get this crap from? It definitely isn’t true psychology, which I studied in school, nor is it scientific in any shape or form.

    1. If you use words like penis or vagina, then by your logic we should also teach our kids to call their parts “c**k” and “p***y” because those are words that a sexual abuser is most likely to use, so might as well familiarize our kids with vulgarities too, so as to showcase our child’s knowledge of their body parts. Don’t like those words, you say? Tough! Get over it! A potential abuser won’t physically restrain them and take advantage of them if they use these words, so just do it for their protection (obviously I’m being sarcastic here).

    2. Don’t tell your kids to be good? Really? From what you wrote about how we should not make them show affection, it definitely follows that we should “respect” their feelings enough to let them tell their teachers to shove it if the kid doesn’t “feel like behaving” on a particular day. *sarcasm again* You’re right! Tell authorities over them to kiss it! Why not? They’ll only have authorities in their work place, government, and everywhere else in society when they become adults that they’ll have to be obiedient to, so lets set them up to fail miserably in the future. It’s nonsense like this that made me stop being a teacher because kids’ parents kept wanting to come to the rescue everytime their kids got in trouble!

    Behaviorism (I.e. true psychology) says that consequences shape our future actions. That means if there are good consequences for acting like a brat, a parent will be reinforcing their child’s crappy behavior via defending them with nonsense like, “well, he just doesn’t feel like it today.” Lets see what happens 25 years later when his boss tells him to meet a deadline and he says, “well, I don’t think so because I just don’t feel like it today.”

    Is that the way you want your kid to be? That’s how they will act if you follow this trendy, pop-psychology blog that offers no sources, no real data, no evidence, and thus has no clue about what it’s talking about. Take the following advice instead:

    “Love without discipline is child abuse”. — Dr. Ray Guarendi

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    • BTT

      You clearly are not a survivor and clearly have no compassion. The article was NOT advocating turning into undisciplined brats. It only stated that kids have a right to say who can and cannot touch them. I could say a lot more, but you aren’t worth it.

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    • Tessa

      You are a jackass.

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  • Kurt

    Just a brief suggestion — a minor title change to “six ways to ‘help’protect your child from sexual abuse.” Somehow, I’m perceiving that doing each of your six (and one-half) things is a foolproof way to keep childhood sexual abuse from happening, when such a thing is unfortunately not wholly possible. Also, if a child becomes somehow a victim of such abuse, the caregivers will somehow come to blame themselves for not being better and more vigilant, when the complete and total blame should be assigned to the perpetrator.

    Take it for what it’s worth, and feel free of course to totally disregard this message.

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  • Mary

    Another one to watch out for is your older kids’ friends. My husband and his little sister were abused by one of their older brother’s close friends. Their mom had no idea until my husband came forward YEARS later. It caused a lot of psychological trauma that it took him a failed marriage and years of therapy to overcome. In retrospect his mother could see signs that they were being abused – my husband being more secretive; his sister getting especially clingy to her when this friend was around – but it didn’t even occur to her to suspect abuse. It’s unpleasant to think about, but we have to be SO vigilant to protect these precious souls entrusted to us!

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  • Krista

    I haven’t read the other comments so I’m not sure that this was addressed but I think it’s a very important point. Whether or not you choose to let your child host/attend sleepovers is a personal choice. But I think if you really want to protect your child you would consider the risks of allowing yoir kids to participate in these events. Even if you think you know the families and parents of children attending, you don’t. You never know whatnother children have been exposed to and what they could expose your children to. Hosting sleep overs at your own house puts you and your husband in danger of being wrongly accused of of things you would never dream of doing. Don’t think it hasn’t happened. The decision is always yours but think about what’s really safe for your children and your family. A great alternative to sleepovers is to do late nights, where the kids are allowed to stay later and play bit the parents come pick them up at the end of the night.

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  • Liz

    The best tip to give a child is obviously that no one has the right to touch them inappropriately or invade their personal space.

    People need to let their children know that it’s never ok for anyone to force them to keep secrets or threaten them harm for telling the truth about an inappropriate touch. They should know there’s no such thing as “our little secret.”

    If they feel cornered in a situation they should be taught guidelines of what to do to get away from the predator safely without alerting suspicion should there be imminent danger involved. Teach them to be both book and street smart, to think on their feet and to trust their instincts.

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  • http://twitter.com/HeyAdeo Adeo Breaux

    Thank you for this great article. It presents a lot of great information, and a lot to think about.

    Forgive me if this has been addressed in the comments, as I didn’t read all of them, but I take issue with two things.

    1) “Adults should feel most comfortable with and most interested in spending time with other adults–not children.” I have worked with kids in a summer camp setting, and have helped set up several programs for kids in my community. Some adults feel comfortable and can relate with children more than adults. That’s not to say we don’t have adult friends, but just because we enjoy playground time also doesn’t mean we are predators.

    2) You bring up an excellent point about the correlation between child abuse and drug/alcohol abuse. I agree with you, but you offer resources for AA and NA, which are 12-step programs based primarily on faith and religion. Arguably, religious-based alcohol and drug prevention programs do not work, and people who aren’t particularly religious can’t find help through these avenues.

    A better resource would be contacting your local crisis center (here in Albuquerque, it’s AGORA. They can help you connect to a treatment program that better suits each individual case.

    Thanks again for this article, it was very informative and I hope it helps prevent child abuse!

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  • http://www.dailysuccessfulliving.com Amy

    Great list. My Step-Daughters lived with their Mother for years and she had quite a few friends over the years. She would always make sure and introduce them to my husband (who is a big guy). He would make it very clear that he was watching out for all of the women in that home. We don’t have any proof, but my Husband, his Ex-wife and I all feel that this helped weed out some of the potential looses. Abusers are watching for people who they can easily take advantage off.

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  • Lisa May McDermott

    This is a very good article with many points everyone should be aware of. However, I do have a problem with the statement…. ” Adults should feel most comfortable with and most interested in spending time with other adults–not children.” …. I have always enjoyed the company of children over adults. And I have never been an abuser. I just find most adults drab or lacking common sense or common knowledge and have a hard time relating. Where as with children, they are still learning and I feel I have a lot to offer (in teaching). I also know a lot of people who like to spend time with children. While I do think you should keep your eyes open and don’t put it past anyone, ANYONE, to be capable of such horrific things, I think you have to be careful not to live a life full of fear. I have a large family on both sides. Many aunts, uncles and cousins. I stayed at their places numerous times, went on trips with them. Some of the traveling was just me and my uncles. (Different ones at different times, some blood related, some not). I started having sleepovers at 11. Had my parents been too over protective I would have missed out on many adventures and memories!! My Dad was also a child-loving, involved father and NOT ONCE did he ever do anything even remotely inappropriate! When I did get abused as a child, it was a male cousin on numerous occasions while my parents and his parents visited, (not even sleepovers… and no, I didn’t tell as a child, I don’t know why I didn’t?) (There is literally still controversy about this in our extended family, but I know what happened!) Also — Not mentioning which siblings, but in our family alone, abusers have also been a boyfriend and a friend of our brothers. We try very hard to protect our children, but sadly this shit still happens and while we are scooping out one type of person, it is someone else who is making their move. Be cautious and keep your eyes open. MOST IMPORTANT is to teach your children what to do if and when it happens… And when they tell… BELIEVE THEM! And please don’t say stuff like ‘oh he would never do that.’ Or ‘it will never happen to my child’. And DO NOT assume this only happens in certain society classes, this happens everywhere and can happen to anyone!

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  • mark

    I am a father of two girls and my two daughters will never go to sleepovers at other people’s homes for their protection. Also, I will never let adolescent boys baby sit my daughter. I cant take the risk of them being abused on my watch. Thank you for the women who said she understood her fathers reasoning when she got older.

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  • TooManyTimes

    I was sexually abused by 2 family members, a friend, her uncle, and 5 other boys. Other than the 2 family members, the rest of the abusers were African American. And the 5 boys were brothers and cousins. They were my mothers best friends family members. I had to be around them, they were who we lived with and babysitters… I was so afraid to get in troyble, that is what they used against me. They told me if i didn’t do what they told me, they would tell on me. So, needless to say, I do agree with the statistic that African Americans are a high majority of abusers. My brother tried telling my mom that it was happening to me, but when she asked me, I told her no. She believed me and not him. I do not have racial issues, I am however, prejudiced to AA males and even females. I have a very good intuition about people and stay clear. I have a son who I can promise you will be taught what is expressed in this article. I strongly agree with the tactics and am glad to see this. He is only 1 1/2 but I am going to be very very stern with who he stays with and knowing where he is. Also keeping the line of communication open and not being naive as my m other was, is what I promise to him. I don’t want him to become a preditor or be preyed on. Thank you for this posting and feeling comfortable in sharing my story.

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  • Social Worker Forensic Interviewer

    Thank you for this article. I am a Social Worker who is trained to conduct Forensic Interviews. I speak to children on a daily basis who have all been subject to some form of abuse (Sexual, Physical, Emotional). I would say that a large number of the children that come through out Center have been victims of Sexual Abuse…I would even go out on limb and say that about 80% the children I see have been Sexually Abuse. This article makes GREAT points that I strongly believe ALL PARENTS needs to take into consideration. In my professional opinion it is never too early to begin facilitating conversations with your children about “Good Touch/Bad Touch”, about the proper names for body parents and so on…the younger the child the more they are at risk of being abuse. PLEASE KEEP THIS IN MIND!!…Children 5 and under do not possess the verbal skills to fully articulate what has/is happening to them. But they can learn what is appropriate and not appropriate from a young age…the more you reinforce the information to a younger child, the less likely they are of becoming a victim. Thank you again for this article. I will be sharing it with every parent I know!!!

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  • dezi

    I really Like this article. Since i was abused as a child i want to do everything i can to keep that from happening to my Children. All this was great advice. One thing i did not see was to teach your Children not to have secrets that secrets are really bad. That you can have surprises but no secrets. Pedafiles Like Children to keep what happened a secret. So atleast in my house there is no secrets at all it is a Word we dont even use.

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  • Alimoo

    My sons are now in their mid – late 30s. First, I never sent them to participate alone in activities, I took them, I was a presence. I was also a widow, and felt my sons could be vulnerable. They never went to a sleepover where I had not met the parents, and we had spoken, “eye to eye.” This surprised many parents. and it surprised me that they would be surprised. If I had not met the parents, you didn’t go there. But, guess how many parents let their kids come for dinner, ride with me, etc, and had never met me. I always went to introduce myself. And, if it was the 1st time for my boys to go for a dinner/sleepover. I always called [during] to be sure they were “behaving…”

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  • http://Facebook Cheri

    Unfortunately, having been that black child, I did ALL those things, and more for my son. I’ve learned many more ways from personal insight than 6. No person deserves the devastating fallout from that kind of abuse. BTW, #2 taught me to ignore my instincts, thus walking right into the fire, because we’re taught to “respect” adults. And yes, I

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  • nterese

    I loved the information in here. My only concern is that is specifies single mothers. I realize that single mothers are more common than fathers. And that males may tend to sexually abuse more (I do not know that for a fact, but seems more prevalent). But there are single fathers out there who would need the same information about potential partners. The information is great either way. Still applies.

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    • Katia

      That sounds incredibly uncommon… There have been a few high profile female sex offender cases (usually involving a murder or a teacher ) and I’ve never heard of a step mom hurting little kids. Maybe on soaps young stepmom hits on her teenage or adult stepson? I also read a lot of advice sites/forums and comments of these kinds of articles (I read a lot in general, not obsessed with this stuff) and not once has someone told a story involving a sexually abusive stepmom or female dating person of their parent. Whereas the male thing is HUGE and it needs to be said. So many single moms rebound so quick. Maybe not all are in danger. But the fact that they rebound quick (yeah I get that having a s.o. Is incredibly helpful and fulfilling) is statistically scary

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