7 things you need to know about child abuse

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. And because, really, every month should be abuse prevention month, I’ve compiled a list of 7 things you should know about child abuse, whether you are a parent or not.

  1. Child sexual abuse=any kind of sexual activity between a child and someone more powerful than her or him. That can be touching or penetration. That can be forced exposure to pornography or someone using sexual language with a child. Anything of a sexual nature with a child.
  2. 1 in 5 girls will be sexually abused by the time they are 18. For boys the number is more like 1 in 15.
  3. Past trauma, like child abuse, has the ability to change our brains and stay in our bodies…for life. Because it can stay in our bodies, past trauma can resurface at any time, “even” when we are adults. Past trauma tends to resurface at vulnerable points in our lives such as pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.
  4. If something seems off to you, say something. That can be related to your own child, a kid at the mall, or even your next door neighbor who seems different than her usual self. You have more power than you think.
  5. Despite the child sexual abuse that we tend to hear more about in the media, CSA is almost always committed by people that our child knows: family, clergy, coach, teacher.
  6. Child abuse is expensive! $124 BILLION in 2008. What’s in those costs? Emotional and physical healthcare challenges as a result of the abuse including: liver/lung/heart disease, obesity, anxiety, substance abuse issues and more.
  7. As adults we talk to “strangers” all the time so telling kids to “not talk to strangers” is silly; they see us doing it! Instead, help kids watch out for “tricky people”. “Tricky people” would be someone your family doesn’t know well offering to babysit for free or asking kids to help them find their lost animal, etc. More on that tonight at Nido Durham.