Self-protection offers a direct and effective way to empower children to protect themselves from sexual abuse. Since the perpetrator cunningly and with forethought sets the stage to perpetrate this crime in secrecy, who is better able than the child to protect him/herself?
Perpetrators choose victims who they assume will keep the secret. No child needs to fall prey to these cunning predators.
We generally teach girls to be passive and reward them for doing so. Girls are raised to be quiet, sweet and pretty; they are never to make a ‘scene.’ Boys are taught, expected and praised to be tough and self-assured, even at times when something troubles them. Whenever a person is traumatized, he or she resorts to familiar behavior; for girls this behavior usually means passivity while boys usually. ‘tough it out’–thinking if they are strong and unemotional, no harm can occur. Self-protection offers a direct and effective way to empower children to help themselves. Since the perpetrator cunningly and with forethought sets the stage to perpetrate this crime in secrecy, who is better able than the child to protect himself or herself? Perpetrators say they can sense a child to victimize; they sense this by the child’s demeanor, body language and facial expressions. They sense the fear, the helplessness and the passivity. Perpetrators choose victims who they assume will keep thesecret. No child needs to fall prey to these cunning predators.
Without knowledge of and permission to exercise self-protection, the only defense a child has against any kind of abuse is to accept the blame. A child cannot conceive the idea, “My father, uncle, mother, grandpa, grandma, aunt, brother, sister, cousin, friend, teacher, or baby-sitter is sick.” Therefore, the only way to survive sexual abuse or incest is to assume that it is her fault. As a child, she has unquestioning trust for everyone. “Daddy, grandpa, uncle, cousin is good; it must be me.” More important, he or she wants and needs his or her family to be a family. She or he believes she or he stabilizes and holds the family together. Therefore, she or heaccepts an inappropriate role. Her or his needs are not being met; she or he is meeowting the needs of everyone else at the expense of her or his own needs.
Tragically, many survivors believe they are the only one being abused. “I thought I was the only one. I thought if I let him abuse me he would not abuse my sister.” This is rarely the case. Perpetrators usually abuse more than one child and frequently abuse several children during a given period.
Armed with this knowledge, it is imperative to teach children to protect themselves. However, protection techniques offer no guarantee. Teaching children: (1) good body image, (2) boundary setting, (3) fostering their self-esteem, and (4) not keeping secrets for others, can prevent abuse or prevent the same person from repeating the abuse.
Self protection/prevention techniques can be taught in their simplest form beginning by age 2 or 2 ½. You can modify the teaching of each technique according to your child’s age. However, it is critical all concepts of self-protection are taught, practiced and reinforced continuously throughout childhood.
Sexual Abuse/Incest Prevention Checklist
Sexual Abuse or Incest Prevention Checklist for Parents and Childcare Workers. Feel free to print out this list for your own use.
Abuse Prevention Articles
“It has been written: ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’ It is essential to add, I think: ‘Respect the soul of your child! Think of the future generations!” Tomas Masaryk, First President of Czechoslovakia, from Humanistic Ideals, 1901. See Video clip.
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