On this month’s A21 on 21 – I’m thrilled to introduce to you a new Encouraged in Heart team member, Stephanie Weaver! I asked Stephanie to share a snapshot of who she is: Stephanie is a single mom residing in Northern Virginia. She is a proud mama of two girls, ages 8 & 11 and a grumpy Puggle named Stella. She is passionate about writing, art, being a mom, special needs kids, healing the broken and her relationship with Jesus. Stephanie going to continue teaching us here about different aspects of human trafficking and I’m so grateful to have her in our community!
Talking to our kids about sexual abuse and human trafficking is so critically important to protect them. Stephanie shares four things to consider as you talk to your kids about sexual abuse and human trafficking.
4 things to consider as you talk to your kids about sexual abuse and human trafficking. #humantrafficking Click To Tweet
From Vulnerable to Protected: How to Talk to Your Kids about Sexual Abuse and Trafficking.
Human trafficking and sexual abuse are more prevalent than you may realize. Yes, it’s everywhere, even in your seemingly idyllic suburb communities. Abusers prey on the vulnerable through grooming, lies and manipulation. Who is more vulnerable than kids? But it doesn’t have to be that way. As parents, we have to protect our children through open communication, education and awareness. Multiple studies show that 40% of all women have been sexually abused. We need to eradicate this statistic!
1. Start Conversations When They’re Young.
As the parent, you decide the best age, but somewhere between 3-5 years old the conversations should start. Conversations. Yes, it is plural. Some conversations will be direct, some not so direct, but keep an ongoing dialogue. Just like anything we teach our children, important conversations require repetition. You might feel a few moments of discomfort, but your conversations could save your family from years of heartache.
When kids are young, keep it simple. Talk about “good touch” and “bad touch.” Tell them specifically who specifically is allowed to see or touch their body and appropriate scenarios like in the doctor’s office or during bath time. Let them know that no matter what happens or what they are told, that they will never be in trouble for telling you the truth about something. They need to feel comfortable to share with you which is why having multiple conversations is so important. Predators often use fear to scare kids into not telling anyone and open conversations is one way to prevent abuse.
Some less direct conversations encourage them to tell you their feelings about anything; this allows them to be comfortable being open with you. Sometimes it’s just reminding them how special and loved they are, and that they have a voice. Sometimes during a doctor appointment, remind your child why it’s appropriate for a doctor to look or touch, but not appropriate for other people to do so.
I know sexual abuse is an awful thing to think or talk about. And hopefully it will never happen to your family but the alternative is worse. I chose to talk to my daughter at 5 years old and I’m glad I did. A child whose parent empowers and educates them on what is appropriate will most likely not keep secrets inside.
2. Don’t Just Talk About it, Live it.
Think about what makes someone less vulnerable to liars and manipulators. Confidence. Self esteem. Love. Education. Knowledge. By teaching your kids these attributes protects their minds from lies and manipulation. Involve your kids in emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy activities and hobbies. Teach them to value themselves and that their bodies are sacred. Don’t be afraid to talk about sex. If you don’t someone else will, and it could be a predator. Show your kids how partners should treat each other. This is especially important for girls to see their dads treating their moms with love and respect. By talking about and living these things, you are teaching them the right way to view the world, so if they come in contact with an abuser, they will be armed with the truth about their worth and run the other way.
3. Monitor and Limit Their Online Activity.
We are the first generation of parents faced with leading our kids in online access and activity. Many schools have seminars on how to lead and protect our kids online. Attend seminars and learn how you can make your kids less vulnerable online. Be aware of who your kids are talking to and connecting with. Check their accounts and that they’re connecting with an actual peer. Ask classmates face to face what their online user name is. Meet your kids’ friends. Set appropriate limits. Tell your kids to use caution online. Explain that someone online could pretend to be a peer when in reality it could be a 40 year old man with non pure intentions (who could be beginning the grooming process).
4. Reject, Receive and Redeem.
Keep talking and teaching your kids about the realities of this world. Teach them what to reject, receive and redeem. If you avoid these important conversations, someone else will teach your kids. By talking to your kids about the difficult or uncomfortable topics, they will learn you’re safe and not afraid of any topic. They will trust you with what they’re hearing at school, on the bus, online, and also ask for your advice.
- Reject – teach them what to reject (things like unknown online requests) and more importantly WHY. If you just put unexplained fences around them, they’re just might want to jump them. Share from your personal experiences. They will appreciate your honestly and appreciate the why. Show them the 50,000 feet perspective, show them the consequences and the future.
- Receive – teach them what is good and valuable in this world. Surround them with good experiences, people and activities.
- Redeem – teach them ways to make a difference. Let them develop their passions and be a positive change maker, a “hope dealer.”
And most of all, teach them that your love is unchanging; nothing they do can make your love more or less, that your love for them is relentless. If all you teach them is sterile boundaries, then your love is often interpreted as conditional (“I’ll love you IF you follow these rules…”), and that may just spur them to push those boundaries.
Traffickers and abusers look for kids who with low self esteem. Protect your kids with love, information, knowledge and your involvement.
Share this post to encourage more parents to talk and protect theirs kids from sexual abuse and human trafficking!