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Gnu Ordure
8th September 2007, 05:25 PM
Hello.

On another thread, which you don't need to read, but if you want to, it's here, (http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=92552) a member was expressing concern for the safety of her six-year-old child.

In response, FSM wrote a considerate compassionate response focussing on sex-education for children.

Based on her experience in child-protection, it contains sound, sensible advice for all parents.

And it is so well-written (and because, I guess, I happen to agree with her advice), that I thought it deserved a wider audience, so I'm posting it here in Education.

Comments welcome, obviously.



Gnu.



Hi DM!

I have a six year old as well and I am in the child abuse prevention/investigation field, so this issue is a concern to me as well. Please bear with me for a moment and take a look at this:

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will likely be sexually abused by the time they turn 18. (I know, I know, in a forum full of critics, throwing out stats is like chum in the water...If anyone really wants to see the numbers, be sure to check out http://www.childhelp.org/resources/l...ter/statistics) But the point of that stat is that in any group of kids you are pretty likely to have a few that have been sexually abused.

ANYWHERE FROM 70-90% OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE CASES (depending upon the age of the child) ARE PERPETRATED BY SOMEONE WHO IS KNOWN TO THE VICTIM. Pedophiles usually prey upon a relationship of trust so that they can do the following:

1.) More carefully monitor the child for future abusive opportunities,
2.) Control the child more so that he/she won't tell,
3.) Manipulate the adults in the child's life to be less protective,
4.) Troll for other children who know the original victim.

So while the bathroom stranger is certainly something to be concerned about (I always check the bathroom first for anyone in the room prior to my kid going in, I look for other exits/entrances, and then I sit where I can watch the door the entire time so that if an adult goes in, I go in... If I can do all of those things and feel secure with her safety, I let her go on her own. She usually HATES when I go with her, "I'm not a baby!" and I think it's good to let her build her independance and confidence by doing things alone if she wants to...) stranger danger is mostly a statistical thing of the past.

Maybe the JREF isn't really the place for a public service announcement, (and also, since I'm usually one of the biggest goofasses on the forum most of the time who the hell would listen to me anyway?) But keeping kids safe is very important to me and spreading the word about this type of thing (even to very smart people who might already know all this stuff) makes me feel as though I'm doing something of import.

Here are some simple things that I suggest to parents when thinking about keeping kids safe... (take them or leave them, they are purely suggestions):

1.) Talk to your kids. About sex. No matter how embarrassing it might feel, talk to them. When they are old enough to ask questions about it at all have the conversation. Let them know that our bodies are meant to feel certain things and that figuring that out is completely natural and okay. When they are old enough to talk about body parts of any kind, teach them the REAL words for genitalia. Investigating abuse is difficult enough without trying to figure out what exactly a 'cookie' is supposed to be.

2.) Tell them that their body is their own and NO ONE else's. Teach them to say no to unwelcome contact. If they don't want to hug Aunt Ruth who smells like moth balls, then they should be able to politely decline.

3.) Teach them to say no to authority if they feel uncomfortable. I doubt many skeptic kids have a problem with this, but the entire, do everything any adult says, way of thinking feeds into perpetrators taking advantage of trust.

4.) Tell them to YELL, kick and RUN if anyone asks them to do something or go somewhere that scares them, even if that someone is a trusted adult. If you want to scare the holy hell out of yourself as a parent, google John Couey. Holy Schmoly. He was a neighbor who walked into a little girl's house, took her quietly out of her bed while she was awake. She did not even make a peep. Her grandparents were asleep in the next room. Couey took her to his house, kept her in his closet for days taking her out to abuse her periodically, then stuffed her alive in a trash bag and buried her alive in his back yard. Horrible bastard. Anyway, teach your kids to YELL.

5.) Avoid one on one situations as much as possible. Whether it's school or girl scouts or drum lessons, most places now have policies in place (thank you catholic churches...) where adults must not be alone in a room with a child one on one, and if they are, they have an open door policy. Prevention/cure... yep. I know it's a sad state of affairs when you can't be alone with a kid without worrying, but that's our world.

6.) Women can be perpetrators. Young people can be perpetrators. Your mother, your father, your husband, your cousin, your car salesman can be a perpetrator. Pedophiles are experts at pretending and hiding and being REALLY manipulative and charming. Don't forget to use your skeptical thinking processes even when it is in reference to someone you love and trust.

7.) The statistics show that most pedophiles are white males, but what stats don't show is what isn't reported. Being abused by an older woman is something that has a bit too much of the wink wink about it to be taken seriously, even by law enforcement. But women can and do perpetrate and probably in much greater numbers than we see now.

8.) Ask your kids if someone has touched them. Don't ask if someone has touched them in a 'bad' place, or if someone made them feel 'bad' when they touched them (good touch and bad touch is an antiquated way to think about sexual abuse) because sometimes those body parts can feel good even when what's happening to you is terrible.

9.) Make sure that kids know to tell you if someone has touched them. Let them know that if they tell you will make them safe and that if they tell the truth they will never be in any trouble. Make sure they know you will believe them. Make sure they know that you will do the right thing and will be calm about it. (AND THEN IF IT HAPPENS, REMAIN CALM AND DO THE RIGHT THING- CALL THE POLICE.) If you get a chance to see Deliver Us From Evil, the documentary about the Catholic Church abuse in CA, you'll see that one of the little girls never told her beloved father because he always told her, "If anyone ever touches you, tell me and I'll kill him." She knew if her dad killed someone he would go to hell (because she was a good Catholic girl) and she didn't want to be responsible for damning her father's immortal soul to hell. That's a pretty damned heavy burden for a seven year old.

10.) Last one, I promise... My favorite prevention training is called Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children and I think it's particularly wonderful because not only does it talk about taking care of your own kids, it talks about being a steward for all kids as well. Keep your eyes and ears open and try to notice if your kid's friends are trying to tell you something. If you think that something is very wrong in a family, trust that and make the phone call. Most states have immunity protection for people who report to law enforcement as long as they have a rational good faith belief that the child was abused.


And that concludes my public service announcement for the day. Thanks for reading if you stuck through to the bitter end. Now back to my regularly scheduled goofy posts. I gotta get over to the "Why Do Girls Date Morons?" Thread to see if anyone's posted anymore pictures of Sawyer...

Darat
19th October 2007, 08:32 AM
Discussion regarding statistics moved to this thread: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=96443