Monday, April 02, 2007

Protecting against perverts

After learning more gruesome details of the sexual assault of a coastal Georgia 6-year-old boy who was recently strangled, packed in garbage bags and dumped in the woods, I have some important information to share. Last week, Faith's principal held a seminar designed to protect children from sexual preditors. Unfortunately, a child is more likely to be abused by someone she knows than a stranger on the streets. Abusers are great manipulators who worm their way into your family or community and wait for their opportunity. Look out for adults who always want to be alone with kids. They go overboard on touching and begin by stroking children or hugging them a little too long. It can begin as tickling or wrestling and eventually progress. One of the ways they get a hold on children is to allow them to do things that are forbidden by their parents. By sharing a "little secret" about drugs, alcohol or pornography, the preditor can move to the bigger secret of abuse. The abuser works the victim over to gain trust. Physical force is normally not necessary as the relationship builds over time. It is important for parents to know the adults they trust with their children and prepare kids for the dangers they could face. Tell your child that no one except parents or doctors can touch them where their bathing suit covers. If grabbed in a public place, a child should fling an arm up and loudly say, "No, you're not my mother," or "You're not my father." That should get the attention of passersby that this is not a normal tantrum. Predators often prey on weaker children, so it's important to teach your child self-confidence and help them learn to be assertive when confronted. Experts also suggest teaching youngsters the proper names for body parts. That way, when reporting abuse, adults will take the children more seriously. It's extremely rare for children to lie about abuse they suffer, but credibility is still an issue at times. Listen to your children and talk with them. If you notice unexplained changes such as moodiness or depression, or a drop in grades or lack of interest in personal hygiene, it's time to have a conversation. When you notice over-friendly behavior from an adult toward a child, confront them. At best, you could be stopping an abuser and at worst, you are alerting a non-abuser that his behavior can be misinterpretted.
- Liz Fabian

1 comment:

Carla said...

As a coastal Georgia resident, I can tell you that the horrific tragedy that took place here several weeks ago, was almost too unbelievable to comprehend. Evil is among us and it is our responsibility as parents to protect our children from these pathetic demons who disguise themselves as people.