Child sexual abuse is more common than many people think, and its effects can be devastating. It hurts many people including the child, their family and friends, and society. We want you to be informed on what to look for and how to help prevent child sexual abuse.

Why learn about child sexual abuse?

  • Victims of sexual abuse may be boys or girls of any age. The abuse can cause serious harm and long-lasting psychological harm.
  • Learning that a loved one has been sexually abused can be very painful. If friends or family members are involved in the abuse, they may be covering up the problem and feeling guilty.
  • Sexual abuse may lead to shattered families, crime and other problems.

What is child sexual abuse?

It's sexual activity with a child that can be physical or nonphysical. Sexual abuse can be:

  • Inappropriate touching of any kind
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Using a child to create pornography
  • Indecent exposure
  • Talking about sex to shock a child or spark his or her curiosity
  • Allowing a child to watch or hear sexual acts or materials

You can help prevent child sexual abuse by:

  • Discussing sexuality with your child and teaching them about their bodies and appropriate sexual behavior.
  • Teaching your child to say no if someone tries to touch their body in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Observing your children when they interact with others. If they're particularly uncomfortable around a certain person, talk with them about their discomfort.
  • Listening carefully to what your children say. Kids may not say directly what's bothering them, but they may give verbal clues that something is wrong.
  • Letting your children know they can speak openly to you if someone touches them in a way that confuses them or makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Eliminating or reducing one-adult/one-child situations.

What to do if sexual abuse occurs?

  • Believe your child; it is rare for a child to lie about sexual abuse.
  • Remain calm and keep your emotions in check.
  • Tell them it is not their fault and you are glad they told you.
  • Tell your child you will protect them from further abuse.
  • Help him or her realize they are not to blame themselves and they are not alone.
  • Report the suspected abuse at once to the police or to the state agency responsible for investigating abuse.
  • If your child seems emotionally affected or behaves differently he or she should be seen by a counselor.

If you are interested in learning more about sexual abuse prevention contact Help Incorporated at (208) 522-5545. Help, Inc. offers Stewards of Children, a sexual abuse prevention training program, to individuals and private groups in our community.

Remember, keeping children safe from sexual abuse is everyone's responsibility.

- Contributed by Hilary Jones, Help, Inc.