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Protecting Kids from Sexual Predators

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The sex abuse scandal at Penn State is a chilling reminder that our children are at-risk for sexual abuse.

The explosive charges against former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky according to a grand jury report, preyed on kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. (He has denied the allegations).

The charges represent the most depraved violations of social norms and decency and are an example of how Penn State, including top officials turned a blind eye to clear warnings and failed to act to stop the abuse.

The high profile scandal can give parents a teaching moment.

Studies show one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they reach their 18th birthday.

Sadly most children know their abuser.

The sports milieu, the church, and the home are all areas where predators sometimes lie in wait for our children. All are seen as places of trust, adult authority and security.

Sexual predators earn the trust of families and children with gifts and special attention. When something inappropriate does happen, the child feels guilty and ashamed. Most never tell.

That is why parents and caregivers need to look for signs, such as a sudden change in behavior, unexplained anger or advanced sexual knowledge at a young age.

If a child does confide in you, remember they rarely lie about sexual abuse.

Tell them you believe them. Tell them you will help them.

An age appropriate discussion with a child should include a message that they are in charge of their bodies, that they can say no and they can speak up.

It is critical that we join forces to secure our kids at a time when disadvantaged families are reeling from the fallout of an on going recession.

What happened at Penn States is a sobering reminder that in fact it does take a village to raise a child. Do your part to help protect our kids.

From our house to yours, wishing you all the best now and throughout the coming year.

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