6 ways to protect your child from abuse

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here are 6 tips to preventing abuse from happening to your children.

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  • Did you know 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know the abuser in some way?

  • April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Follow these tips to prevent abuse from happening to your children.

  • 1. Open communication

  • Children who report sexual abuse often tell adults they trust other than their parents. Allow for opportunities to talk openly with your children. Allow them to feel safe discussing problems and concerns.

  • If your children know you trust them, they will come to you more often. Encourage your children to share their feelings with you.

  • 2. Nurture your children

  • Children need confidence to know how they deserve to be treated. Through love and quality time spent with them, your children will come to know from you how they should be treated by others. They will feel uncomfortable with abuse because it is not the way they are treated at home.

  • Stay positive with you children when they're struggling, and they will feel safe in your presence.

  • 3. Educate your children

  • Talk to you children about their bodies. Set safe boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. As children get older, educate them about safe sex and how abstinence is the safest choice.

  • Teach your children their rights. Children are more likely to report abuse if they know abuse is never their fault.

  • 4. Ask questions

  • Don't go to bed without asking how your teenager's night out with friends went. Ask your young children how their experience was at the neighbor's house.

  • Don't let the hard questions go unasked. Give your child the opportunity to share honest concerns and problems with you.

  • 5. Be involved

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  • Know who your children's friends are. Know where they go and what they do. Set curfews and rules that you enforce with love so your children know you want them protected.

  • Monitor you child's use of technology and social media. Spend time strengthening family bonds and getting to know your child's interests and hobbies.

  • 6. Follow parental intuition

  • This goes for all aspects of your life as a parent. If you don't feel right about a situation, trust that feeling. 59 percent of abused children are abused by people the family feels are trustworthy. You know better than anyone what is safe for your children.

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Don't leave a child alone with anyone if you are not comfortable with the situation. Listen to your children's concerns. If they do not feel safe, then there might be a good reason not to leave them. Check in regularly to assess the situation when your child is alone with someone else.

  • Preventing child abuse begins in the home with involved, caring parents. Work together as a family to learn about abuse prevention and talk openly about children's rights to say no. Children rely on their parents to be nurtured and cared for. If they receive that in the home, they will expect others to treat them the same way.

  • If you suspect child abuse, contact the nationwide child abuse reporting hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

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Candace is a freelance writer, victim advocate and stay at home mom and wife.

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