You know what it’s like, from the moment your child is born, instinctively all you want to do is protect them, right?However, the reality is our children are in danger every day and often because of circumstances beyond our control, even as parents.
Child sexual abuse – it’s very real.
We may choose to ignore it, remain ignorant, trivialise it, feel frustrated at the media and the Government for constantly throwing it in our faces, but it doesn’t make any of it go away or less real.
You may think to yourself, “I don’t want my child to be affected by this topic. I just want him/her to be a child”. I get it. For any parent, child sexual abuse is scary and naturally, it induces feelings of bleakness; the subject is far from palatable and it’s not exactly dinner conversation or a comforting bedtime story. Aside from death, in my opinion, child sexual abuse is a parent’s worst nightmare!
As a parent, you learn to cope with many of life’s traumas, developing resilience in between dealing with the everyday childhood predicaments you encounter. Still, nothing quite prepares you to face the thought of your child being in danger at the hands of someone else. Despite this, as parents, one of our primary responsibilities is to keep our children safe from sexual abuse; part of protecting them is ensuring they know how to keep themselves safe.
Did you know you’re the best teacher to help your child develop an awareness about abuse?
Don’t get me wrong, professionals do a great job and they’re there to offer support if abuse has occurred, but no one knows your child better than you, and you should not be afraid to take the lead in doing preventative work with them.
Research shows that 90% of sexually abused children are abused by someone they know, as opposed to a stranger. Taking early steps to prevent the possibility of abuse is important to avoid having to deal with a later emotional trauma.
By gently and sensitively bringing this subject into their awareness, you can support your child/ren, teaching them how to set boundaries and raising their awareness of their own bodies. It should be no different from teaching them road safety, being aware of cars and traffic; an aware child is a safer child.
In my 14 years working as a Senior Sexual Abuse Counsellor at Barnardo’s, the UK’s leading children’s charity, I realised that children need, not only counselling to help overcome their experiences of sexual abuse but also, to be educated enough to help safeguard themselves from further abuse. For that reason, I set out to develop creative resources to help them ‘Keep Safe’. Over the years, I’ve developed simple, creative, laughter inducing ways to educate children, and remove some of the discomfort and fear around sexual abuse. These easy methods are adaptable enough to enable and empower you as parents to work effectively with your child/ren in a safe, fun way, without feelings of unease or anxiety getting in the way. Many of the characters have been developed from scenarios around children I have worked with and the creative methods used to help support them.
In our current climate child sexual abuse is being reported daily in some newspaper therefore we cannot afford to make it a taboo for children just because some adults are uncomfortable or embarrassed with the subject.
CONVERSAFE helps children to:
- Openly explore and talk about their feelings Develop confidence
- Increase Self-esteem
- Understand the importance of boundaries Learn to make healthy choices
- Identify safe adults who can help offer them support if needed. Encourages quality fun time between parent and child
- Most importantly raise awareness around keeping their body safe