- Amy Lingerfelt
Every choice you make has the potential to make the world safer or scarier for kids. As adults, we are often unaware of just how much change we can influence in the world. How can we make the world safer for kids?
We can reduce the stigma around child abuse, both physical and sexual, by talking openly about it. When we talk about it, children learn that they don't have to accept abuse quietly and other adults learn that they won't get away with harming a child. Silence is where abuse thrives.
On the note of talking, we can open a healthy dialogue with the children in our lives around topics such as body safety and identifying other safe adults. Perpetrators tend to look for children who feel isolated, so ensuring that your child feels loved and supported is one of the easiest ways to help insulate them from the possibility of abuse. Body safety talks can be as simple as identifying private areas and explaining that no one should touch or look at these areas unless they are helping keep you healthy. Children benefit from concrete examples, so be sure to discuss a variety of examples such as a parent changing a baby's dirty diaper or a doctor checking the development of the genitals at a doctor's appointment with a caregiver in the room. The most important thing is to make sure the child knows who they can talk to if something does happen.
Honor a child's boundaries, especially when it comes to their body. If a child learns that saying no doesn't do anything, they will become adults who are unable to say no. Empower them to set and hold boundaries around touch. Some examples would be to let the child pass on a goodbye hug or freezing when the child says no during a tickle, even if they're laughing.
Adults can get trained. It's hard to help prevent child abuse when you don't necessarily know what to look for. A Caring Place offers free trainings on a variety of subjects to help adults know the signs and respond responsibly. Contact us today for details.
We can influence business and corporations to make policy changes that keep kids safer. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) releases a list every year of the companies that benefit the most from sexual exploitation nationwide. We can contact the owners of these companies, boycott their services, and demand change. Check out this year's list and specific ways to influence things here: https://endsexualexploitation.org/dirtydozenlist-2022/
We can contact our government officials at every level and challenge them to stand up for kids. They can increase funding to support prevention education efforts, crack down on laws for perpetrators, and provide increased support to the local agencies that respond to reports of child abuse.
There are so many ways we can make the world safer for kids. We encourage you to choose wisely.