Making the Circle of Trust Truly Safe for Children: Measures for Ending Sexual Exploitation of Child
While we’ve seen significant progress in prosecuting sex trafficking offenders and generally addressing occurrences of sexual abuse of children, not much exists on actual prevention. We have many non-profits providing therapeutic and correctional services to survivors of child sexual abuse. There are also criminal justice-oriented measures and legislations focused on prosecuting perpetrators. But the crime is still rife in our communities.
The key takeaway is that there’s a gap that must be filled.
Indeed, not much is known about preventing child sex trafficking. Most parents do not even know how to protect their kids from online predators. Even with all the prosections, about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys still experience child sexual abuse at some point in their childhood. Parents and caretakers/guardians must step up in protecting their children.
It is your responsibility as a parent or guardian to ensure the safety of your child. You must provide safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for your kids. From what we know so far, the majority of child sexual abuse cases were perpetrated by close family members, friends, or romantic partners. Over 91% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child or child’s family knows.
Impact of Sexual Abuse on Children
Child abuse is such a big fuss that it has been a major talking point for ages. By all means, we need to punish perpetrators and offer therapy to survivors, but at the time of doing all these, the innocence of the child would have been stripped away, and the trauma has already been inflicted upon the child.
For some, the damage even follows them into adulthood, while others may tow other degenerative paths like prostitution, drug abuse, and crime.
Research shows that experiencing sexual abuse as a child is an Adverse Childhood Experience that can affect a person for a lifetime; it impacts how they think, see themselves, act, and behave with others. Besides the emotional trauma, some adverse physical conditions that may result from child sexual abuse are sexually STIs, physical injuries, chronic health conditions (e.g., heart attack) that may emerge later in life. In addition to this, the child may suffer depression or PTSD.
This is not to mention the very likelihood of pregnancy or distorted social behavior that might mar the person's life later in life. According to status, survivors are still at risk of being victimized immediately or later in life. Studies have shown that children who suffer sexual abuse find it challenging to report the incident to their parents. This is because most cases involved perpetrators were close to them or the family.
So, What Can You Do?
To keep our children’s circle of trust truly safe and friendly for them - as it should be - we need to begin by addressing apparent gaps. With the many research and recommendations available today on the subject, one key solution that’s always been echoed everywhere is staying aware of how perpetrators prey on their victims.
Child sexual abuse is actually preventable. Parents only need to take a deliberate approach to protect their children. This involves promptly identifying and eliminating harmful situations. For instance, you might want to keep a close eye on their activities on the internet, closely monitor their friends, and be quick to observe changes in the child’s social behavior. Children in these situations often show signs of fear or withdrawal from friends and family.
Also, you might want to be closer and friendlier to your kids. That way, they’ll be more confident to tell you what is going on in their lives, both at home and school. One of the tough conversations that parents must have with their kids is sex education. Of these strategies, the most effective way to save your child from falling prey is by learning the risk and protective factors for child sexual abuse perpetration and victimization.
You can learn more by looking at the CDC’s recommendation on leadership and using a public health approach to reduce children’s exposure to sexual abuse and ensure safer environments for our children.
If you suspect someone is a victim of trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at 1-800-373-7888. They are available 24 hours every day. Also, check out our blog on what you can do when you notice sex trafficking happening around you for more tips.