Keeping Children Safe
No one ever wants to have a conversation about child abuse. It's difficult, often emotional and always painful for the child who has been abused and the parent. But hard things have to be done and this is definitely a place where we all need help.
The best time to talk about abuse is right now, regardless of your child's age.
Start by ensuring children know the correct anatomical names for their private parts. Make sure they know how to take care of their private parts, such as wiping after using the bathroom and bathing, so they don't need to unnecessarily rely on adults.
Teach children about body safety and the difference between “okay” and “not okay” touches. Let children know that they have the right to make decisions about their bodies. Empower them to say no when they do not want to be touched, even in non-sexual ways (e.g., politely refusing hugs) and to say no to touching others.
Educate children about the difference between surprises and secrets. Keeping a surprise would be like a birthday party or a holiday gift. These are OK as they are not kept secret for long. Keeping a secret from a parent, especially keeping a secret from a parent for a long time, is not OK. No one should ask a child to keep a secret.
And remember, most child abuse comes at the hands of a person the child knows. Stranger danger is far less common. Your gut instinct is important. If it feels wrong, chances are it is.
If you see or suspect abuse within a YMCA program, or you see or hear about something that doesn't feel right, call us. We have a confidential hotline set up at 919-719-9690, or you can submit an anonymous incident report.
If a Child Reports Abuse to You
Believe Them: Let them know you believe what they are telling you and listen
Stay Calm: Fear of your anger or you being upset is why many children do not disclose abuse
Re-establish Safety: Protect them from the abuser and reassure them that they are safe
Get Help: Report abuse to the appropriate agency; medical or emotional care may also be needed
How to Report Abuse
Every county in North Carolina has a Child Protective Services department. (The actual name may vary slightly from county to county.) This is a good first place to start. You can also report to the organization where the abuse happened. And of course, you can always call 911, especially if you need immediate assistance in protecting a child or removing an abuser.