ProtectikindsKENTUCKY (7/12/13) – The state of Kentucky has seen many cases that have erupted regarding sexual abuse of children over the last year.

Statistics put forth by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, state the following statistics on sexual abuse involving minors.

•    1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
•    Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
•    During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
•    Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
•    Children are most vulnerable to child sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Armed with this knowledge, one must take proper precautions to keep the children safe.

Initially, keep in mind that a very large majority of sexual crimes can originate from communications on the internet. With this in mind, children should be closely monitored if allowed access to the internet. Parents should constantly watch what websites their children are on and make certain that they are family friendly. Quite often sexual criminals will start out finding their prey on social networking sites. It is a good idea to not allow children to have access to social networking, or any site that allows contact with other individuals.

Many cases of child sexual abuse are related to non-family/friends, such as child care. If you are going to hire a babysitter, it is best to hire someone that you already know, such as a family member. If you don’t have anyone you are familiar with to take on this responsibility, do some research. When hiring a babysitter, always do a background check. Get references, preferably with a mutual contact that you already know. Some parents will, wisely, go so far as to put cameras in their home to monitor the entire household while they are away and the child is with a babysitter. This may seem a bit paranoid, but a child’s safety comes first to a responsible parent/guardian.

Next up, be watchful. You may think you know your neighbors and/or local citizens well. Nevertheless, it is not wise to let a minor walk around a neighborhood, city park, or even sidewalks by themselves. It is not unheard of for a child to be abducted or sexually abused while a parent is inside cleaning house, or just not actively monitoring their child.

Inform your child of the necessity to avoid strangers, and to be defensive when approached by a stranger. Any stranger should realize that you do not approach a child without approaching a parent or guardian first.

Don’t automatically expect that your child will tell you if he/she has been sexually abused. Statistics show that many children will not admit that they were sexually abused until they are grown, and some will not ever admit it.

Lastly, use instincts. If you have a bad feeling about something or someone, avoid it.

Local law enforcement goes the distance to protect our children, but we, as parents/guardians, must realize that we are the first line of defense for our children. It is not necessary to be paranoid constantly, suspecting everyone as a child abuser, but it is necessary to be vigilant and to know that you are your children’s initial safety factor.

J.L. Graham
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