Your Child’s Personal Safety: What Parents Need to Know About Child Sexual Abuse

Growing up today is not easy. There are many different kinds of serious risks that our children will face before they become an adult. At Big Brothers Big Sisters we are deeply concerned about your child’s safety and well-being — not only in our local mentoring program, but also in their daily lives. 

One of those very serious risks that children face is child sexual abuse. We know from nationwide research that children are much more likely to be the victim of violence and victimization than adults. A recent study found that 60% of youth reported having been exposed to violence or victimization in the past year, including sexual victimization.

WHY IS BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS PROVIDING THIS TRAINING FOR PARENTS ON CHILDREN’S PERSONAL SAFETY?


Big Brothers Big Sisters wants to be a part of the solution toward reducing violence and victimization in children’s lives. We also understand that the subject of child sexual abuse is a very difficult one, and that resources for parents to help them truly understand the topic and know what to do to keep their child safe are limited. For that reason, we have developed resources for you as your child’s first and most important line of protection against this crime.

BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS’ NATIONAL SAFETY RECORD

Child sexual abuse is a societal problem that impacts every youth serving organization, school, church and sports program in the U.S. For decades, Big Brothers Big Sisters has been a leader in providing high quality programs, focused on the safety of the children our local affiliates serve. That priority is reflected in our safety record.

Nationally, over our organization’s history, reports of child sexual abuse in a local Big Brothers Big Sisters program have been much lower than the rate of child sexual abuse in our society — and lower than the rate of sexual abuse identified in all youth serving organizations across the U.S. In fact, the rate across our history is a small fraction of one percent, which includes reports of incidents that may have occurred years or decades before the report was submitted. Of course, we are outraged and saddened by any account of a child being harmed.

THIS CAN BE A SCARY SUBJECT TO THINK ABOUT.

Talking about child sexual abuse is difficult, but having an honest discussion about effective approaches to prevention can help keep your child safe from harm.

IT’S ALSO IMPORTANT TO REMIND YOUR CHILDREN THAT MOST PEOPLE ARE GOOD.

We know that most people who work with and show interest in helping children are good, and are safe for your child to be around. It’s important to let your children know that there are many good people in this world. 

WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE?

Child sexual abuse is any sexual behavior that children do not fully understand, are not able to give consent to, or do not give consent to. This abuse is also against the law. The abuse can be between an adult and a child, or between two children. It is any sexual behavior that includes creating pictures or video of the sexual abuse or forces children to have sex for something of value, including money or drugs.

Sexual abuse can be “hands on” or “hands off.” “Hands on” child sexual abuse is when there is physical touch or contact between the offender and the child. This might include the offender kissing the child, the offender touching the child or getting the child to touch them. “Hands off” child sexual abuse is when the offender:

  • Watches the child with some or all of their clothes off, like when they’re in the shower or getting changed
  • Takes pictures or video of the child with some or all of their clothes off
  • Watches or takes pictures or videos of the child doing something sexual with another child
  • Has the child watch pornography or be a part of making pornography
  • Has the child send sexual pictures or videos of themselves to someone else

HOW DO WE PREVENT IT?

Start by teaching your child healthy personal boundaries. Tell them... “You have a right to safe and healthy personal boundaries. Your body belongs to you and others should not touch you in a way that hurts you. No one should make you feel bad or scared by saying mean things or by saying they will hurt you. No one should touch you in a sexual way on the parts of your body covered by a bathing suit. This means no one should touch you on your penis or vagina, butt or breasts. And no one should ask you to touch them in a sexual way.”

Understand the grooming process used by people that may want to harm your child. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if someone is just being kind or generous, or if they’re grooming you and your child. When you see these behaviors, talk to someone who can help you decide what to do.

When you enroll your child in a youth-serving organization, make sure to understand their policies and follow them closely. Report any violations of policy or concerns to the organization’s staff immediately. 

IMPORTANT MESSAGES TO SHARE WITH YOUR CHILD OFTEN

“You can tell me anything, anytime, and I’ll help you out of any kind of problem.”

“It’s never OK for other kids or adults to touch you in a way you don’t like or to touch your private parts. If this ever happens to you, it’s not your fault and you should tell me right away so I can help make it stop.”

“If something bad is ever happening to someone in the family or to someone you know, it’s important that you tell me so we can help them.”

“If someone is bothering you or if someone is doing something to you that you don’t like and I’m not around, tell another adult.”

LEARN THE SIGNS OF ABUSE AND REPORT SUSPICIONS TO POLICE OR CHILD PROTECTION AUTHORITIES

Your local Big Brothers Big Sisters program will provide you information on signs of abuse and how to file a report. 

Adopted from Big Brothers Big Sisters of America - Your Child’s Personal Safety: What Parents Need to Know About Child Sexual Abuse