Discussing violence and abuse with your children can be very difficult, but it is one of the most important conversations that you will ever have. After all, if your child is not given the proper tools to help them identify and avoid abuse, you might end up dealing with a horrible situation. It is also important to make sure that they have a firm understanding of what they should do if they end up in an abusive situation.
Opening Up A Dialogue
Most children are innocent about the violent aspects of human nature. Even if they enjoy playing with fake guns, they do not have a true understanding of the damage that a real gun can cause. Because of this, you will need to approach the subject of abuse carefully. Tragically, approximately six million children are abused in the United States each year, and 1,560 children die at the hands of their abuser. With statistics like these, it is crucial to ensure that your child knows how to recognize and report abuse.
Most parents will discuss both physical and sexual abuse with their children at the same time. The first step is to let your child know that no one has the right to touch them in a way that hurts or makes them feel uncomfortable. Additionally, you need to inform them that if they do experience a situation where someone touches them in a harmful or scary way, they need to tell you immediately. Because most abusive adults will threaten the child to keep them quiet, you should discuss the fact that coming forward no matter what is the only way to make the abuse end.
Recognizing the Signs of Abuse
If your child suddenly becomes more withdrawn, flinches when people come near, hides when they are doing something simple such as changing their shirt, or begins to throw a fit whenever you want to visit a specific place, it is time to pull them aside and have a discussion about abuse. Although it is possible that their behavioral changes have been initiated by something other than abuse, you should never simply assume that they are just going through a moody stage. In fact, when a child at least attempts to refuse to see someone who they always liked in the past, this moment may be an indicator that something has gone wrong between the two of them. Therefore, if they try to avoid discussing the issue, you will need to gently press them until you discover the root of their anxiety.
Law enforcement officials have become much more cognizant of the importance of stopping abuse over the past two decades, but it is still important to present any evidence that you have. After all, without any physical evidence, the police will have a difficult time prosecuting someone. However, you should still come forward with a report regardless of whether or not you have any concrete evidence. Even if the police are unable to move forward with a case at first, they will make a note of the allegations, and this can help them if other incidents occur.
Supporting Your Child
It is common for parents to want to deny abuse because they do not want to believe that someone they know or trust would hurt their child. Regardless, it is imperative that you support your child throughout the process. Letting them know that you believe them is a major component of ensuring that they will come to you with any additional encounters with abuse.