ORLANDO, Fla. — It’s estimated that one in five children will be sexually abused before they turn 18. In 80 percent of those cases the child knows their perpetrator. The statistics are terrifying, but there are things parents can do to reduce the risk of their child becoming the next victim.
“The sexual abuse started when I was five,” Kim Stewart, a child abuse survivor, told Ivanhoe.
Kim Stewart’s dad went on to molest her every day for the next eleven years. Unfortunately, Kim’s story is not unique. Twenty percent of all child abuse victims are molested by family members.
“We're looking at people around you, and that's a hard thing for parents,” stated Matt Hartvigsen, an employee at Defend Innocence.
Defendinnocence.org is dedicated to helping parents recognize the signs of sexual abuse in their children. Sexual predators often groom their victims, lavishing gifts and attention on them.
The first step as a parent is to set boundaries, and to have open and honest conversations with your child. They say parents need to embrace the awkward.
“You don't have to have a perfect conversation for it to be meaningful,” mentioned Matt Hartvigsen.
“I still have to have this conversation no matter how weird or uncomfortable it makes me feel,” shared Karen Brown, a parent.
Just keeping communication open with your child is the first step.
“But if you're not asking those questions and you're not engaged in their life, they're not necessarily going to bring those things to your attention,” stated Karen Brown.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to embrace the awkward, it could save your child’s life.
You can find out more on how to have age-appropriate conversations with your child at defendinnocence.org.