The Facts About Abuse
This is a hard post to write. We all want our children to be safe, but the reality is that some children are not. As a trusted guide in this field, it is my responsibility to share the facts, even when they are hard to hear (or read). Everyone needs to be aware and vigilant when it comes to the safety of our children. They rely on us to be educated and to be able to respond in a healthy way if and when abuse occurs. So, let’s take a closer look together…
The facts tell us that abuse happens in all types of families, within all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. It is not limited to a certain “type” of family. Most parents want the best for their children, but factors like stress and lack of resources can sometimes compromise a parent’s ability to make good choices about the welfare of their child(ren). Sexual abuse by strangers is rare (2%); more than 85% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a family member or someone the child knows well.
Most sexual abuse is perpetuated without force or violence. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse or exploitation before the age of 18. Children with disabilities are even more at risk.
Children rarely false report abuse (only 2-4% of reports turn out to be false). They speak from experience and cannot make up this information unless they have been exposed to it.
Should abuse occur, treatment from a mental health professional can minimize the physical, emotional and social challenges that may occur after such an incident. Treatment helps the child to process feelings and fears regarding the abuse. Ask your family doctor or school counsellor for a referral should you be looking for someone for your child to speak with. You can also connect with MCFD (Ministry of Children & Family Development), or even ask a Certified Sexual Health Educator (..hey, that’s me! Feel free to CONTACT ME through the contact page if I can help).
Several years ago when setting up for an outdoor preschool workshop at a local park, a little girl ran towards me to check out my butterfly carpet and my teaching tools. Before she reached me her mother yelled, “Stop! Stranger danger!” I remember turning around to see who she was referring to, not realizing it was me! The truth of the matter is that until we embrace the reality that children are more likely to be abused or exploited by someone they know and love, we are unlikely to change the outcome.