In recent months, Boy Scouts of America has come under fire for covering up a decades-long history of sexual abuse within their organization. As of this week, at least 800 victims have come forward reporting they were abused by a Boy Scout leader when they were a child.
This is tragic news and highlights the fact that sexual abuse of children is highly underreported in the U.S. One reason for this underreporting is that it is difficult to talk about—both for the child and for the parent. We seem to be ill-equipped to handle what is clearly a big problem—and in some cases, an epidemic—in our society.
Because of this, I want to spend some time today educating parents on preventative measures they can take to protect their child, warning signs to look for in your child, and what to do if you suspect your child has been abused.
Preventive measures every parent can take.
These may sound extreme, but your kids are worth it. To help keep your child safe from abusers, put the following boundaries in place:
- No sleepovers for kids of any age. Abuse occurs in all ages of boys and girls.
- Know who your kids are with at all times and make sure you know their friends’ parents very well. You may know the parents, but does that parent have a boyfriend, girlfriend or others over while your child is there? I’ve heard many kids say they were abused at a friend’s house, so it’s important to know who is at the house at all times.
- If your child is on a travel team for sports, be alert and again, know the chaperone very well. Remember, you can never pinpoint an abuser.
- No pornography in the home, on screens or anywhere.
- Teach your child from a very early age that his or her body is beautiful and worth protecting. That’s why they keep their private areas covered.