SAFETY BUZZ / By Brenda Zofrea
Are you aware of the dangers children face growing up today? Do you believe most strangers are good and would not hurt a child? Have you discussed with your grandchildren unsafe behaviors (action and words) that may put them in harm’s way? Have you made a commitment to making their personal safety an integral and constant part of your grandparenting?
We hope you answered “yes” to these questions. If not, we hope this article will inspire you to do your part to help protect your grandchildren from strangers as well as from “familiars” who might do them harm.
One of the most horrific and damaging threats facing children today is sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is not only a global crisis, it is a major public health problem that requires all of us, especially parents and grandparents, to be proactive in protecting our most precious resource — our children!
To get you started, remember to be wary of:
- Adults who want to spend more time with your grandchild than you do
- Adults who surround their homes with toys and activities that appeal to children
- Adults who go out of their way to make a child feel “special,” especially if they give gifts, money, and lots of attention to a particular child
When in doubt about someone’s intentions, don’t discount what your instincts are telling you.
Did You Know?
Startling facts & stats about child sexual abuse:
- 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused before age 18.
- 500,000 babies born this year will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
- 20% of child sexual abuse victims are under age 8. The majority are 7 – 13.
- 90% of sexually abused children know their perpetrators in some way.
- 39% of child sexual abuse is by family members.
- Only 1 in 10 sexually abused children tell someone. Of those, 40% tell a peer but not an adult.
- Child sexual abuse can have many detrimental effects, including sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, poor academic performance, substance abuse, violence, and suicide.
- Child sexual abuse is the second most expensive crime in theU.S., costing $35 billion a year.
Grandparents’ Role in Stopping Child Sexual Abuse
As a grandparent, we are often one of the closest adults to our grandchildren. That puts us in a unique position to suspect, speak up, and take action when a grandchild is at risk of or a victim of child sexual abuse. To learn more, read “The Unique Role of Grandparents in Preventing Child Sexual Abuse,” a publication of Stop It Now®.