Vulnerable children become more vulnerable, people that feel powerless are less empowered, and a general stress that complicates life is in the air; this is life during COVID-19. KidSafe has been careful to not over-communicate with parents and caregivers on how to manage this difficult time. However, it is actually a really opportune time to continue to teach your kids about their personal safety.
When stress levels rise, so too does the instances of child sexual abuse. Most abuse is committed by people we know and trust and 68% of the time it is our family members. Sometimes this abuse occurs because there is opportunity and lack of supervision, sometimes because of boredom, or access to pornography online. But certainly, when parents are stressed or distracted, children are at a higher risk for abuse.
Now is not the time to be complacent about this issue. Now is the time to be proactive.
Most children will not tell you if they have been touched inappropriately, or if they do tell, it is in an indirect way that you must decipher. Hearing your child tell you that someone you love (your spouse, another child, tween or teen, or an uncle or a grandparent staying in the home with you during the sheltering time) harmed them is almost impossible to imagine. Our defense mechanisms can come into play and we do not listen to the child reporting. The better we understand that sexual abuse has a higher chance of occurring during times of high stress, the more we can do right now to effectively protect.
You have, as caregivers, a lot to think about now, and safety of physical health has taken a priority. But it is also a good time to talk about personal safety, and reiterate to the children in your lives that you are here to keep them safe. Discuss the fact that you will listen to anything that is worrying them, and that you can protect them best when they talk to you about their lives.
KidSafe will provide you with tips and guidance of what you need to know to best keep your family safe. Throughout April, we will be providing tips and guidance of what you need to know—in small easy ways—to keep children safe. It’s not hard, it’s not a lot of work, and you don’t have to become a seasoned social worker! It’s a perfect time to open up conversations about personal safety and ensure your children are empowered. We will share conversation starters, downloadable activities, and mini videos. Feel free to ask us anything #AskKidSafe or on our website.
Stay healthy in this uncertain time, and know that keeping your children safe is your priority right now. We are here to help.