Five Days of Action is an initiative of the YMCA Guardians for Child Protection, with support from:
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Copyright © 2020 Five Days of Action

KNOW how sexual abuse happens

One in 10 children are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. So how do you keep them safe between soccer practice, tutoring sessions, and piano lessons? When leaving your child in the care of other adults, like a youth serving organization, make sure they have the proper policies and procedures in place.

 

Know what to ask youth serving organizations:

  • Is there a child protection policy? Ask for a copy. Here is a sample.

  • Does the policy include limiting isolated one-on-one situations? 80% or more of child sexual abuse incidents happen in isolated one-on-one situations.

  • How are employees and volunteer screened? Best practices include an in-depth application, extensive interview, criminal background check, and personal and professional references.

  • Are there clear procedures for reporting suspicions or incidences of abuse?

  • To find more questions and tips, download the KNOW. SEE. RESPOND. booklet here.

SEE the warning signs

Trauma is often the root of what we label

difficult or bad behavior.

 

SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE IN CHILDREN

By knowing the signs of sexual abuse, we can protect children from further harm. Signs of child sexual abuse can be physical and/or emotional, with physical signs being less common.

  • Anxiety, chronic stomach pain, or headaches may occur. 

  • "Too perfect" behavior, withdrawal, fear, depression, unexplained anger, & rebellion

  • Nightmares, bed-wetting, falling grades, cruelty to animals, bullying, being bullied, fire setting, runaway, & self-harm of any kind.

  • Sexual behavior and language that are not age-appropriate.

  • Use of alcohol or drugs at an early age. 

  • Could have bruising, bleeding, redness & bumps, or scabs around mouth, genitals, or anus. Urinary track infections, STDs, and abnormal vaginal or penile discharges  can also be signs.

LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES:

  • Substance abuse problems

  • Mental health issues including depression, suicide attempts, & psychiatric disorders

  • Obesity & Eating disorders

  • Physical health problems including fibromyalgia, heart disease, & cancer

  • Teen pregnancy

  • Criminal behavior

Long-term Consequences:

  • Substance abuse problems

  • Mental health issues including depression, suicide attempts, & psychiatric disorders

  • Obesity & Eating disorders

  • Physical health problems including fibromyalgia, heart disease, & cancer

  • Teen pregnancy

  • Criminal behavior

 

BYSTANDER INTERVENTION

 

Offenders are often seen breaking the rules and pressing boundaries, making it vital that other adults intervene. As an active bystander you can step up when you see a child is feeling uncomfortable or being made vulnerable.

When you see a boundary violation, it's not important that you know the intentions of the person who crossed the boundary. What is important is that you protect the child's boundaries, regardless of intent.

When intervening in a boundary violation:

1. Describe the inappropriate behavior or boundary violation to the person who crossed it.

2. Set a limit on the person who has crossed the boundary.

3. Move on. Refrain from making a dramatic scene. State the limit in a calm, direct manner.

Can you imagine a situation where you could intervene as a bystander? Use the process above to figure out what you would say and do. To learn more and see other examples, download the KNOW. SEE. RESPOND. booklet here.

Example:

Describe the behavior: "It looks like you are forcing Chloe to hug. She looks uncomfortable."

Set the limit: "Please stop. We let Chloe decide if and how she wants to show affection."

Move on: "Chloe, let's go see what the other children are up to."