Posts Tagged ‘therapists’

Many parents believe that most children are groomed for sexual abuse online or face-to-face by a stranger. But many more times they are groomed by someone they know. Sometimes it’s someone who is living right in their own home! A step parent or live-in partner, a family member or relative. In fact, children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner that is not the biological parent of the child are 30 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. But alert parents can often stop a sex offender before he or she harms a child.

Here are some of the things every parent should know: 

  • One in four children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • Ninety percent of children are sexually abused by people they know well, including immediate family members.
  • Child sex abuse isn’t limited to sexual intercourse. It also includes oral sex, genital contact, deliberately introducing a child to pornography and exposing one’s genitals to a child.
  • In the vast majority of cases, children who report sex abuse are telling the truth.
  • Fewer than 5 percent of children who have been sexually abused actually report it, and fewer than 5 percent of perpetrators are arrested.
  • Some sex offenders make a concerted effort to get access to children and often target parents and children they see as vulnerable.
  • Single mothers and their children are especially vulnerable, since many of them have little or no outside support.
  • Sex offenders often position themselves as the “hero” saving the mother and child from a difficult or unhappy situation.
  • Sex offenders don’t pounce immediately. They may spend weeks or months “grooming” a child, working to make a child feel special by showering him or her with gifts, special activities and outings, and attention. They may approach the mother with offers to lessen the burden on her, such as watching a child after school every day for free.
  • Sex offenders will work to break down a child’s natural inhibitions. These behaviors include “accidental” touching, insisting that the child sit on the offender’s lap, roughhousing, tickling, massages,”accidentally” walking in on a child undressing, showering, or using the toilet. It usually escalates later to showing pornography to a child, photographing a child (in either sexual or non-sexual poses) and providing a child with alcohol or drugs.
  • Sex offenders rarely stop at one victim.

Most parents never suspect that a family member or a trusted friend would sexually abuse their child so they don’t even realize that person has been grooming their child until after the abuse has happened. We must understand that groomers will often go to great lengths not to be identified and the signs of grooming aren’t always obvious.

If a child is being groomed by someone in the home they may:

  • Be very secretive about what they are doing and where they go.
  • Spend an inordinate amount of time alone with the much older person.
  • Come home with gifts such as new toys, clothes or cell phones.
  • Have unexplained changes in behavior or personality.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior for their age.

Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by making the child (and their mother) feel dependent on them. Which is why many mothers may hide the abuse rather than report it. The abuser will use any means of power and control to make a child and mother believe that they have no choice but to allow the abuser to do what they want. To hide their abuse the abuser may introduce “secrets” as a way to control or frighten the child. In many cases the abuser will convince the child’s mother that it is the child’s fault in order to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

Because child sex abuse has become so prevalent in our society today, it is important for parents to be vigilant in protecting their children from predators that may be living with them. Even in cases where the abuser is arrested and charged, many times the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

But in many states the Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. This is a common misperception. In Nebraska for example, the SOR law does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. In some cases the perpetrators are even allowed to have contact with their victims!

Why don’t our legislators care more about our children?

A senator is called to, among other things, to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • Right injustices involving the public.
  • Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed.

I have written to many senators concerning the outdated SOR laws with no success. Legislators have done little or nothing to change the SOR laws so that victims of child sexual abuse are better protected.

As a parent you must recognize that YOU are responsible to protect your child. You may face a difficult dilemma in these circumstances, but you are not helpless. If your child has disclosed abuse, and your spouse or partner has access to your child, you must deny that access. It is important that your child know that you believe them and support them. It is also important that your child be in ongoing therapy so that they have a safe place to talk about their concerns. By law you may be unable to totally keep them from their abuser, but you can petition the court to only allow the abuser supervised visits with the child. Therapist’s recommendations are often used by the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child’s welfare and safety. It is also important that you be in ongoing therapy as well to address issues related to your child’s abuse.

What else can a parent do?

Keep a log of interactions and concerning behaviors of your child’s abuser. Maintain a log of all suspicious statements made by the child. If the child discloses additional abuse, immediately report to Child Protective Services and to law enforcement. Consult with the child’s therapist and voice your concerns. If child sexual abuse is revealed, by law the therapist must report it. Your hope is that with time and additional reports to Child Protective Services, that the abuser will be arrested and charged.

Talk to your child at an early age. Include sex abuse awareness among the safety precautions you teach your kids. Just as you tell them to watch for cars when crossing the street, teach them that no one should touch their private parts and tell them it’s okay to refuse a hug or other contact that makes them uncomfortable—Regardless if it’s Grandpa Joe or “Mommy’s new friend.”

If you’re squeamish about discussing sex with your kids…Get over it! This is not about you. Let your kids know that they can talk to you about sex and sexual abuse. Give them age-appropriate sex education and use proper names for all body parts. Find books that parents and children can use to help prevent sex abuse.

If your child tells you that he or she has been touched inappropriately, don’t start grilling your child for details. Instead, simply tell them that you believe them; that it’s not their fault; and immediately call law enforcement or the Department of Human Services. Children who are possible sex abuse victims should be interviewed only by professionals. The police and Child Services are trained for this and are always willing to deal with the interview part.

Most of all, trust your gut and stand your ground. If another person’s words or actions regarding your child are setting off alarm bells, say “no.” And if your “no” is ignored, then you need to terminate the relationship.

It is important to know that if you neglect to report the abuse, you may be charged with child endangerment and your child may be removed from your home and placed in foster care.

Other helpful resources:

Darkness 2 Light http://www.d2l.org

Rainn (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-can-i-protect-my-child-sexual-assault

National Sexual Violence Resource Center http://www.nsvrc.org/projects/child-sexual-assault-prevention/preventing-child-sexual-abuse-resources

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