KNOWLEDGE Is Truly Power. AWARENESS Is Truly Protection. VIGILANCE Is Always Necessary (Brave Kid Voices)
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“When children are treated without kindness, their focus goes to surviving rather than thriving.” Andrea Nair
“Children raised with love and compassion will be free to use their time as adults in meaningful and creative ways, rather than expressing their childhood hurts in ways that harm themselves or others. If adults have no need to deal with the past, they can live fully in the present.”
- Jan Hunt
‘Children don’t become people… they are people’
We teach our children about road safety, not to play with matches, not to talk to strangers etc and yet we don’t as a rule teach our children about the dangers of abuse. It is a topic that is hard to tackle but we must grasp this nettle as statistics show that 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males are sexually abused…and those figures are possibly higher in reality.
It is my belief along with many others that we need to empower our children with the knowledge of how to keep themselves safe from abuse as much as is possible. We need to teach them about safe/good touching and bad touching…there are ways to do this without frightening and alarming them. Teaching our children that their body is precious and it is okay to say “no” and to tell if someone attempts something that they feel threatened or uncomfortable with. This I believe is empowering them with the tools to keep themselves safer as well as us as adults doing all we need to do also. Some people are uncomfortable with teaching our children such things because they feel it takes away their innocence…but on the contrary I feel it is giving children the necessary skills and empowering them to hold onto their innocence should someone try to take it away. Leaving the abuse to one side for just a moment, I see it as no bad thing to give our children more value in their own body anyway. To have our children grow up with the knowledge that they are precious and deserve to be respected and nurtured rather than used or abused.
‘Yes there are monsters, and it’s okay to be afraid of them. But its’s not okay to let them win. And it’s not okay to be one.’
WHAT IS ‘SEXUAL ABUSE’…
Child sexual abuse is when someone uses a child for his or her own sexual pleasure and gratification. An abuser maybe a man or woman, or another child or adolescent.Both boys and girls can be abused, and sometimes from an early age. The sexual abuse of children includes: Sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, including using an object, all penetrative sex, including penetration of the mouth with an object or part of the body, encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity, including sexual acts with someone else, or making a child strip or masturbate intentionally engaging in sexual activity in front of a child or not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activity by others meeting a child following sexual grooming, or preparation, with the intention of abusing them taking, making, permitting to take, distributing, showing or advertising indecent images of children, paying for the sexual services of a child or encouraging them into prostitution or pornography showing a child images of sexual activity including photographs, videos or via web-cams. (The above information is from the N.S.P.C.C)
HOW WE CAN EMPOWER CHILDREN…
As I said at the top of this page it is important that we teach our children to be safe, but without putting fear into them.
From when children are very small we need to begin building an open and trusting relationship…this lays the foundation as your child grows for them to know and feel it is okay to talk to you about anything.
We need to teach children about the possible dangers of keeping secrets.
Talking to our children in a calm and relaxed manner and at the child’s level is one of the most powerful ways of giving them a clear message.
RESOURCES TO HELP YOU WITH THIS SENSITIVE TOPIC…
There are some excellent books available for children which I would recommend as a great introduction for opening up the conversation…such as…’My Body Belongs To Me’ By Jill Starishevsky – ‘Your Body Belongs To You’ By Cornelia Spelman - ’Lets Talk About Sex’ by Robie H. Harris - ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ By Jayneen Sanders These are just a few of which I’m sure there are many more good books available to help.
Check out this brilliant story book being read on you-tube… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YjJ1MreZqs&feature=plcp
Another video suitable for younger children too… http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2013/05/video_for_kids_understanding_s.html
Victim Grooming – Protecting your child from sexual predators:
Food for thought with a guest blog entry from ‘Michele Coutu’ a survivor & writer…
The Bogeyman…Please be aware that there may be triggers in this entry.
Halloween’s fast approach has me thinking of monsters. Not the cute kind like the ones on Sesame Street.. No, I mean the real ones. The ones that walk among us with little to no notice. They have learned to assimilate. Something their victims spend a lifetime trying to master how to do. To hide the blackened brand. The mark placed upon them by these cruel creatures. It is very common for them to go unchallenged. Free to molest the minds and bodies of the unwitting. It is just as common when the monster is named, called out, that others come to their defense. Proclaiming the victim an instigator. An attention seeker. they do not wish to have their pristine apple cart turned over. To have to look at that fruit closely and realize what they thought was good and healthy, has a rotten core. I have no idea what makes a monster a monster. Is it lack of feeling? Lack of empathy? A thrill at the thought of bringing pain to another? To be master and dictator over the victim. I do not spend much time in that arena. I have little care as to the why. My concern is the who.
The disenfranchised. The broken. Those that walk in the shadows. As a small child, I was fearful of the Bogeyman. A shapeless, mysterious dark force, meant to do me harm. I do not know where I learned of him. It was too long ago. But, I grew up looking behind doors and searching dark corners. Waking up in my bed late at night, disturbed by some half heard noise and holding my breath. Laying in the dark. Too afraid to lift my head. Listening. Was he here? Did he see me? As all bogeymen do, mine grew more menacing as I grew older. He became more defined. He was so different than I had imagined him in the beginning. I was shocked, heartbroken when I realized my special bogeyman looked just like me father. And unlike so many times before, when I woke in a fit of night terror, I could see him and he surely could see me. I had wished so hard that that was all he could do to me.
Many times the monsters hide behind well crafted masks. Years in the making. They take such care. Invest so much, all to make sure that they blend in. That no one will notice them. They depend on it. And so when they are called out, when some brave soul dares to speak up, they are very often not believed. Why would they say such a horrid thing? What was wrong with them? And the victim becomes the accuser. Somehow, the aggressor. And it is such an exquisite trap. So easily laid. Clearly they are troubled. This name caller. This evil act insinuator. And just as if it was scripted, they act out. They cut, or they drink, drugs or sexually provocative behavior. They are angry. They do not sleep. Heads are shook and hands wrung. What can be done? They are clearly broken. And the monsters go on. They feed unabated in an orchard of fruit. They became tenders to the crop. Waiting for their chance. Waiting to take what is not theirs. They eat freely. Hungrily. And they will not be stopped.
They will ravage whole fields of the bounty before them. They labor over the reaping. Sacrificing everything to an appetite that cannot be satiated. Unless someone cuts them down. Unless someone looks behind that well placed mask. It is the only chance to save the saplings. Those still untouched and those that have been trampled. They must be propped up and staked with care. So that they can grow. So that they may reach up and catch the light. The warmth of the sun. The soothing drops of a rain that washes the soot from their leafs. So that they may go on. So that someday we finally stop them. These viscous creatures that loom in the shadows. Nodding and smiling. Watching the yield. Counting their numbers and waiting. Always waiting.
So be wary. Always be sure, your crop is well tended and if by chance a well meaning being offers to take your shift. To watch while you rested. You are tired aren’t you? You do so much. If they beseech you to let them lift that load off your back. Say no. Beware the fruit picker offering their service. They are shape shifters. Teacher, coach, boyfriend, husband, father,preacher, doctor………They come in so many varieties. So many masks. So keep watch. Light your lanterns and hold them high. Cast out the shadows and look with clear eyes. The Bogeyman is out there. He is real and he is unfed. He must be flushed out. Starved out. Pointed out. He must bare the label. It is his alone. The stigma of thief, of taker, of murder of hope. He must be caged and bound up. Locked away. With no view of the grassy hills and the orchard beyond. The Bogeyman is coming….he is real…
Children do not become people, they are people.