Safe Kids. Strong Communities.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Join the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver and YMCAs across the country to protect kids and prevent child sexual abuse.
Help us raise awareness and take action to keep kids safe with these 10 tips to prevent abuse
- Be informed. Child sexual abuse is one of the most prevalent, most hidden risks that kids in our communities face. One in 10 children in the United States will be sexually abused before they turn 18, and still too few people know about the extent of the problem.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. Offenders operate by access, privacy, and control. Step back and consider who your child interacts with, where they interact, and how your child responds to these interactions.
- Teach children their boundaries. Children have personal boundaries, and violating them is a form of abuse. Empower your children to understand their:
Physical boundaries: Who can touch them, how much, and where
Emotional boundaries: How close they are to a person, how much time they spend with that person, and what information they share
Behavioral boundaries: What rules they are to follow, and what they should or should not do
- Set clear guidelines. Make sure everyone in the family respects each other’s rights to privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping, and other personal activities. Be clear about the difference between “okay” touch and inappropriate touch. Use proper names for body parts so children have a clear understanding of their bodies and the correct language for asking questions or describing behavior that could be sexual abuse.
- Know what “crossing the line” means. Know what boundary violations can look like, so you can watch for red flags. Physical boundary violations can mean tickling, massaging, horseplay, or going overboard with affection. Emotional violations can include acting possessive, pretending to be the child’s friend on social media, or sending excessive or inappropriate text messages. Behavioral violations involve manipulating kids into doing things they wouldn’t normally do like keep secrets, look at pornography, or use drugs or alcohol.
- Say yes to “no.” Give children ways to say “no” if someone tries to violate a boundary. Teach them to yell “Leave me alone,” or “My body is private.” Role-play to help kids get comfortable saying no, and let them know these phrases can be used for other children as well as adults.
- Let children get away. Teach children to move away from anyone who is violating their boundaries and to tell another grown-up what is going on. Let them know that no one should be making them feel uncomfortable or asking them to keep “secrets.”
- Start talking – and keep talking. Take the lead in talking to your children about what is healthy sexual behavior and what is unhealthy. Let everyone in the family know they can ask questions and talk freely. Continue to bring up the conversation as children learn and grow, so they always understand what’s appropriate and what isn’t.
- Stay on top of your children’s use of technology. The Internet, email, instant messaging, webcams, social media sites, and cell phones create the illusion of anonymity. Monitor your child’s online behavior, and make sure your child’s interactions are visible and public. Also, teach your child to never give out personal information.
- Know your resources. Learn more about the signs and symptoms of sexual abuse, prevention tips, and ways to intervene. If you do suspect abuse, know how to report it promptly and get the right support. Bookmark these resources to stay informed and take action:
As one of the “YMCA Guardians Against Child Sexual Abuse,” your Denver Y is committed to protecting children and providing a safe space where children can learn, grow, and thrive.
Thank you for joining us in this critical effort.
Let’s keep kids safe together!