Having a child sexually assaulted is one of a parents worse fears, not far behind losing a child. As parents, we try to do everything we can to protect our children, but the unfortunate truth is 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault. Knowledge is often a parents best tool in the fight against sexual assault. Here are 5 facts every parent should know to protect their kids.
1. 93% of victims knew their abuser.
It's the ugly truth. It is often the people we trust with our children who take advantage of them. RAINN (the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) found 34% of sexual assault perpetrators were family members of their victims. Only 7% of victims said their abusers were strangers. Talk to your child about sexual assault and explain that no one "looks like a rapist." Watch how your child interacts with the adults in their life. If you notice anything that stands out like if your child doesn't want to go around a certain family member, ask questions.
2. Of all victims under 18 years old, 2 out of 3 fall in the age range of 12-17.
As our children mature, we give them more freedom to do things and go places without our supervision. While this is an essential part of a child's emotional growth, this gives sexual predators more opportunities. Before allowing your child to go places without you, sit them down and talk to them about how to leave or seek help when they are in an uncomfortable situation.
3. 55% of all sexual assaults happen at or near the victims home.
According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics, at or near the victim's home is the most common place for sexual assaults to occur, followed by public places (15%) and at or near a relative's home (12%). Unfortunately, this makes sense since a significant portion of childhood sexual assaults are committed by family members. Also, people, children included, spend the majority of their time at home.
4. Having an open line of communication with your child is one of the best forms of prevention and early detection.
The best way to prevent childhood sexual assault is to have an open-line of communication with your child. From a young age teach your child the proper names of their private parts. If someone does try to sexually assault your child, this gives them the tools to communicate what happened and understand what the predator might be asking of them. If you don't know how to approach the topic with your child, you can watch videos like the one below by the Committee for Children, which explains how to talk about it in an effective way. Once you've had the talk with your child, you can download some of our coloring pages to continue the conversion.
5. You can signup for sex offender notifications to learn about predators in your community.
Lastly, you can sign up for offender alerts, which will let you know about sexual predators in your neighborhood. These alerts will have picture. Showing your children the pictures and warning them about the predators near them is a great way to protect them from immediate threats. You can sign up for alerts HERE!