From the time they’re born, children need to be protected against all forms of physical and emotional abuse. Thankfully, many parents take this responsibility seriously and do everything they can to keep their children safe from harm and abuse.
Some parents, however, don’t pay enough attention to or even know the signs of abuse, which make it possible for abusers to get close to their children without being noticed or reported in time.
Following are 8 ways you can protect your child against any form of abuse.
1. Teach them to recognize the signs
The first step in protecting your child from abuse is teaching them to recognize signs of abuse. If they understand what an abusive adult looks like, then they can be on guard against them.
For example, you can teach your children that any adult who touches their private parts or makes them touch theirs, uses insults or threats against them, gives them drugs or alcohol, encourages bad behavior, makes decisions for them without their input, and/pr tries to isolate them from others by cutting off contact from friends and family members is an abusive person.
The sooner you teach your children how to recognize these signs and react accordingly by seeking help from a trusted adult (preferably a parent), the sooner they’ll learn how to protect themselves from abuse.
2. Be Observant
Even if there isn't a scary person loitering outside every day, there's still no reason to let your children play alone outdoors because it's not hard for abusers to hide behind friendly faces.
They could simply talk to your children as they're playing outdoors and gain their trust long before touching them inappropriately or grooming them into staying quiet about such instances.
3. Be involved in your children's lives
In some cases, a lack of involvement on a parent’s part can make a child more susceptible to abuse.
An absent parent leaves a void in a child’s life—one which others will try to fill. So, the single most important thing you can do as a parent is to stay actively involved in your child's life.
Even subtle warning signs can be overlooked if you don’t have an active presence in your child’s life.
However, if you notice anything even remotely suspicious, speak up about it right away because failure to do so could end up costing your children and your dearly down the road.
4. Get involved at school
If you’re able to, try to get involved in your child’s school. It doesn’t matter if it’s volunteering for lunch duty or attending parent-teacher conferences. Getting involved with their school will allow you to see how your child interacts with other adults, which can help you provide extra protection against abuse.
5. Provide one-on-one attention for each child
If you're a parent of more than one child, make time—even if it's just during the weekends—to go out with each child individually and do activities that he or she enjoys doing together.
Even if there isn’t extra time during the weekdays, evening hours are also ideal for connecting with children. Going out alone with your child gives you the chance of checking in on them without distractions.
Also, this can be an opportune moment to talk privately about anything unusual that happened at school or ask about bullying issues or new friends who have entered into their lives.
Providing room for one on one discussion will help build trust between you and your child, which keeps them safe no matter what age they are.
6. Encourage open discussion
One of the best ways you can protect your children from abuse is by encouraging open and honest communication. By providing an environment where they feel comfortable speaking openly about anything, you make it easier for them to reach out to you if they need help.
We know discussing abuse with children, whether it’s physical or emotional, is never easy, but keeping lines of communication open is another important way of keeping kids safe and happy.
Many abused children feel ashamed or worry that they’ll be taken away from their family if someone finds out. However, if you keep an open line of communication, it helps them know they have a trusted adult and an outlet if they ever experience abuse.
If your child seems withdrawn or unhappy at home, take note, it could be a sign that something isn’t right in their world – encourage them to talk about it!
7. Educate yourself on how, where and when abuse can happen
Educating yourself on how, where, and when abuse can happen is very important in keeping your children safe.
Child abusers often focus on places where children might feel lost or alone: playgrounds, shopping malls, movie theaters, etc. And they sometimes come bearing presents, such as candy or toys.
If you know these facts, you'll be able to teach your children to always stick together while out in public places and to also be wary of strangers bearing gifts as they may have ulterior motives.
8. Keep your children away from risky situations
By being unmindful of who we allow into our homes and what they're allowed to do while they're there, we unintentionally expose our children to predators and abuse.
Nevertheless, if you frequently have to keep your children with babysitters or house guests, don't dismiss seemingly insignificant issues as simply part of growing up; they could be danger signs indicative of abuse your child is facing both at home and elsewhere.
Teach your children to be cautious of strangers, to understand that they have power over their bodies and that no one has the authority to touch them inappropriately, and that they can always come to you at any moment.
Also note that when you feel something doesn't seem right about a situation, trust your instincts and seek out professional help from an expert in child abuse prevention—even if it isn't always easy or convenient!
Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it most— the safety of your family is worth it!