children are at increased risk of being sexually abused during the holidays
The holidays can be a time of joy, laughter, and making memories with loved ones. It can also be a very stressful time and a time of increased negative emotions. Additionally, while COVID-19 has imposed some restrictions on the way we live, people may still be engaging in small gatherings, school functions, church events and other activities over the holidays. While it may be difficult to think about, children are at increased risk of being sexually abused in times like this. Here are a few helpful facts to keep in mind:
- Approximately 9 out of 10 children who are sexually abused know their abuser; most often, the perpetrators are family members, trusted family friends, or authority figures.
- 4 out of 10 children who are sexually abused are abused by older children.
- Most children do not disclose that they have been sexually abused right away, and some never disclose.
Fortunately, there are also some things parents and caregivers can do to protect children from the risk of being sexually abused:
- Try to eliminate situations where your child could be alone one-on-one with adults or with older children. Consider that this is important not only in homes but also in public places, such as schools, churches, youth sports settings, and public restrooms.
- Create an environment in which your child can feel safe to talk to you about things that are bothering them.
- Pay attention to changes in your child’s grades, sleep habits, appetite, moods, and daily routines. While this does not always mean that a child is being abused, these signs can alert you to something that may be going on with your child.
- Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch him/her if it makes him/her feel uncomfortable, and your child doesn’t have the right to touch someone else if it makes the other person feel uncomfortable.
Although these tips are being provided for the holiday season; it’s important to remember that the best thing we can do is to have ongoing conversations with our children about safety and sexual abuse throughout the year.
Looking for a resource for a family member or friend that may need answers or support about possible abuse? The Dayton region has three child advocacy centers:
- CARE House in Montgomery County - 937-641-4545
- Child Advocacy Center of Warren County- 513-695-3100
- Michael’s House in Greene County- 937-641-5670
If you have reasonable suspicion that a child has been abused or neglected, please contact your local Children’s Services agency. In an emergency situation call 911. You will reach your local law enforcement agency.
Please do your part to ensure that children enjoy a safe and happy holiday season this year!