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Child sexual abuse

Rhonda A. Blackman

Child sexual abuse

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MANY CHILDREN ARE crying out for help because they are being or have been sexually abused, but are adults listening to some of these cries? Some parents are turning a blind eye because they refuse to believe it.
Child sexual abuse is nothing new; it has been around for a long time. Therefore parents need to educate their children about what it involves and what they should do if they ever encounter an abuser.
Child sexual abuse often involves body contact but this is not the case in all situations. It could include sexual kissing, touching, oral, anal, or vaginal sex, but also showing of private parts or forcing children to watch pornography.
Many children believe that sexual predators have a particular face. When asked what an abuser looks like, many children paint a picture of a person who looks mean, is carrying a weapon or is big and tall.
Parents need to tell their children that predators do not carry a face. They could be anywhere – the church, neighbourhood, home, clubs, and more often than not, they are people who appear trustworthy. Children need to be mindful that an abuser might be a neighbour, friend of the family or even the babysitter. The predator could be a family member – sister, aunt, brother, uncle, father, partner – or a stranger.
Sexual abuse often occurs secretly and there is not always physical proof of the abuse. It is not always easy to tell whether a child has been sexually abused. For these reasons, predators can be hard to detect. These are more reasons why parents/adults should listen to children when they cry out for help.
The signs or cries for help might come in many forms. An abused child might constantly have bad dreams. He/she might wet his/her bed. The child might show other fears and worries or might act out aspects of the abuse during play time. Some children’s behaviour might change to the negative, and some might run away from home.
Parents cannot protect their children 100 per cent of the time. However, they can provide a safe, caring setting so that the child feels able to talk to them about sexual abuse.
Do not turn a blind eye when you find out your child is being sexually abused. When informed, investigate and bring the perpetrator to justice. Do not cover up the vicious acts of these predators out of fear that it might bring embarrassment to the family.
If a child says he/she has been abused, reassure him or her that what happened is not his/her fault and you are proud that he/she spoke out.  
Inform your child that he/she should report if someone tries to touch him/her inappropriately or do things that make him/her feels unsafe. Talk to your child about the difference between safe touching and unsafe touching.
Let’s work together to bring these sexual predators to justice.
• Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former president of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.; email [email protected]