As a mother, it is my job to keep my children happy, healthy and above all SAFE! As it is for any parent, but sadly, there are dangers out there, dangers we can’t always foresee and we just have to educate ourselves and our children of them, no matter how difficult the topic. No parent wants to think of anything happening to their children, we tell ourselves that will never happen to our children, but over 57,000 children in the UK have been identified as needing protection from abuse and for every child identified, there are around 8 more unidentified being subjected to abuse, so we have to do everything in our power to make sure our children are protected. In the United States, over 300,000 children each year are being sexually abused, these are just the reported cases, more needs to be done to bring these numbers down, way down!!
When we talk to our children about staying safe, we tell them about stranger danger, but the sad and frightening thing is, many children are abused by someone in their circle of trust! We do not want to be untrusting of family members or those close to us and we certainly do not want to frighten our children, but we DO need to educate them on what is appropriate and what is inappropriate and not force them to kiss or hug family members if they do not want to, as this is taking away their control over their own bodies, it is important to teach our children that it’s not ok to be made to touch or hug someone if they do not want to.
Relatives and friends can be abusers, no matter how sickening and terrifying that is to think about, I am not saying we should all stop showing family affection, I am saying we shouldn’t make children do it, if they say no leave it at that, they need to learn their own boundaries as well as the ones they are taught by us as parents, or at school and so on. By forcing our children to show affection, even if they do not want to, we are saying their level of comfort doesn’t matter, affection can be shown without needing to physically touch, if that is what the child is more comfortable with.
It’s important that we teach our children to never be afraid to talk to us, to raise their voice and be open and honest, we must always let our children know they can tell us anything, no matter how scary or bad they think it is, that we will always be there for them, to look after them and protect them.
1 in 5 children are sexually abused before the age of 18
60% of children are abused by someone that is not family
30% of children are abused by a family member
10% of children are abused by a stranger
That means 90% of children are abused by someone they know, terrifying statistics to say the least. We can’t completely eliminate sexual abuse, but we can at least try and reduce it, with proper education and information, we can create a safe and healthy environment, where our children can speak to us freely about anything and know that we are there for them no matter what.
Final thought… As hard as it is to think about, or talk about, we have to face facts, it’s out there, it happens everyday and we have the tools at our disposal to educate ourselves and our children, to keep them as safe as I possibly can, you can find in depth information and tools here at http://www.defendinnocence.org the amazing organisation we have worked with, defending children and adolescents from sexual exploitation. Thank you for reading… Lisa xoxo