Older Kids Abusing Younger Kids
How about the fact that 40% of sexual abuse is caused by older or larger children? It’s important to realize that the abuser is not always an adult. This puts a different twist on keeping your kids safe.
Kids can be abused by older siblings, cousins or neighbors. They can also be abused by older children who are in a babysitter role. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center provides an excellent document which describes
healthy childhood sexual development
along with behaviors that are a cause for concern.
Psychologist Tracy S. Bennett counsels kids who are victims and perpetrators. In her article, “Cañon City Kids Say Sexting “Is Just Nudity!” Well Mom and Dad, Is It?”
, she describes what she’s seen in her practice as it relates sexting.
"The ugly truth is that middle school girls are trying to attract high school boys by texting them sexy images of their blossoming private parts. …
It’s not just the girls in jeopardy. The boys enthusiastically log in to this mess too. Some become expert at grooming the girls to send the sexy photos, which they then share with their "boyz" for quickly growing "<city name> nudes exposed!
" collections. And to make things more horrifying, the boldest of the boys proudly share their name lists of the virginity prizes personally collected from girls they intentionally targeted who were too young to know any better."
Most children are not developmentally mature enough to realize the impact of sending and receiving nude photos. Certainly the
Cañon City High School students in Colorado did not expect to potentially be facing felony charges
for their actions. The kids at Canyon Park Junior High and Skyview Junior High in Bothell, Washington also did not realize the police would be investigating their sexting
. You can use situations like these to launch a discussion with your kids about the dangers of activities like sexting.
Educating Your Kids Starting Young
The basic message young children need to have is that their privates should only be touched by themselves or a doctor. A great place to begin for preschoolers is by reading a book like My Body Belongs to Me
. It's a simple children's story with the message that if someone touches you inappropriately, tell.
You probably have warned your kids to tell you if anyone hurts them. They also need to know that when their private parts are touched it can feel good. So sexual abuse may not hurt and that can be confusing or embarrassing for kids. They should know that it can feel good but that they are the only ones who should be touching their privates and only when alone.
Adults who sexually abuse kids may tell the children that it’s their secret. They will warn the kids not to tell anyone. Reading a book like Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept
is a great way to help kids learn the difference between good secrets and bad secrets.
Trusting Your Gut
If you have an uncomfortable feeling about leaving your kids with someone, trust your intuition. You probably can override your uneasiness by logically explaining to yourself why this person should be fine with your kids. Avoid this mistake.
Joelle Casteix was sexually abused as a teen by one of her teachers. Her experience has compelled her work in helping prevent and expose child sexual abuse. In her book, The Well-Armored Child: A Parent's Guide to Preventing Sexual Abuse
, she writes “Predators love it when we don’t listen to our gut. Why? Because when we see a predator in action, we rationalize the actions and make excuses. Thus we might overlook what are in fact the first stages of grooming – the little actions that strike us as a bit odd.”
There is a lot you can do to protect your kids from sexual abuse. It’s absolutely worth your effort to educate yourself and your kids.