A simple definition of sexual abuse is a situation where individuals are exposed to various forms of sex-related actions. These persons may fall under different categories, including children, teenage girls or boys. Unfortunately, statistics show that a large percentage of these individuals never speak out until later in life. This may be due to several factors such as threats issued to them, the fear of being harmed by the abuser, or the thought of being chased out of the house.
Fortunately, lots of relevant institutions have spoken out on this issue, and quite a number of methods on how to stop abuse have been put forward. Regrettably, this plague cannot stop until an important facet of the society does something about it. The most important facet is the family. Families have an important role to play in curbing sexual abuse because as the saying goes, charity indeed begins at home. A situation not put under control within the home becomes a societal problem, which is harder to control.
The family consists of the mother, father, children (older and younger) and extended relatives. Each of these members has different roles to perform in preventing and putting an end to sexual abuse. They all have to be aware that they have a part to play in protecting each other and carry out their roles with all sincerity. Let’s take a look at the functions of the family in stopping sexual abuse:
Advice for Fathers
While dads tend not to be close to their children, this is something that they should learn to incorporate into their lives. Children find it harder to confide in their dads. Fathers should, therefore, do the following:
- Get involved in their child’s life: Fathers need to learn to participate actively in the lives of their children. By so doing, it becomes easier to identify the signs of sexual abuse. Actions can then be taken to protect your child.
- Ensure you know the people in your child’s life: Sexual assault is usually perpetrated by those very close to your kids. Fathers should endeavor to know all those that their children come in contact with daily. It could be their teachers, friends, coaches, classmates and parents of other kids.
- Carefully choose caregivers: Fathers who choose caregivers for their children should be careful on how they go about it. Caregivers are another set of people that can impact either negatively or positively on your kids. A lot of research and background checks on the individual has to be done before introducing them to your children. Also, look for people that can vouch for these individuals.
- Report to the appropriate authorities: Once a case of sexual abuse has been established; fathers should endeavor to report to the relevant authorities. Once the abused is assured that something will be done about their abuse, they find it easier to speak out.
Advice for Mothers
The mother is by all accounts the closest person to a child. She knows her child and can be able to detect any strangeness in the attitude of the child. This, though, is dependent on the mother-child relationship. A child finds it easier to confide in the mother when faced with series of challenges. A mother, especially with these repeated cases, is supposed to be aware and enlightened on such situations. This would enable her to know how to teach and protect her child from these experiences. Here are the roles of mothers in stopping sexual abuse:
- Educate your kids on sex-related issues: As earlier intoned, mothers are closer to their children and children find it easier to confide in their mums. As such, mothers have to play the role of enlightening and educating their children on sex-related issues. A mother should also make herself approachable so that the child will find it easy to confide in her.
- Study your children: The mother should be able to know and tell when there is a strangeness in the behavior of the child. Such strange signs include an unnecessary show of fear especially towards a particular person or place, over curiosity to things that are sexually inclined, touching or fondling of sexual parts (masturbation), sudden changes in child’s expression, excessive outbursts, truancy, jumpiness or edginess when touched and many more indicators.
- Discuss secrets: Majority of the abused tend hide their fears from their loved ones. Mothers should encourage children to share their secrets with them. Let them know that they can always talk to you about any secrets someone has asked you to keep. Children that share secrets with their mothers have a greater chance of exposing abusers than those that don’t
Advice for Siblings
- Get close to each other: Apart from mothers, siblings are usually closer to each other. Siblings that are close to each other often find it easy to talk to themselves about their experiences day in, day out. So more often than never, siblings are the first to know about sexual abuse especially the older ones. Siblings should, therefore, endeavor to build a close rapport with each other.
- Report to your parents: Siblings also tend to easily cover for each other and not report issues to their parents. This shouldn’t be so. Children should learn to confide in their parents about each of their siblings. By so doing, it becomes easier for parents to identify and put an end to abuse.
It is necessary to train children to know their rights to say no, and this can only be achieved within a family. They should be aware that victimization is strengthened in secrecy, but they are only freed when they speak up. They should not be threatened or cowered into silence. Children should be more educated about sex. It doesn’t have to do with age. Moreover, the earlier they know, the better and safer for them. Even though advancements in technology has allowed access to a lot of inaccessible areas through media, communication, trends, etc., parents should guide their children through what they use, see, and imitate. A strict guideline should be given and they should be made to understand and see it from the positive and beneficial standpoint.
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