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7 Steps to Protecting our Children: Introduction

Preventing, Recognizing, and Reacting Responsibly to Child Sexual Abuse - A Guide for Responsible Adults

What is child sexual abuse?
  • Any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other.
  • Forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. This, of course, includes sexual contact. It also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet.
  • An agonizing and traumatic experience for its victims.
  • A crime punishable by law.
This booklet is only the beginning.
Child sexual abuse is a very complex problem, and this booklet touches on only a small part of it. The information we provide is not a substitute for the advice of professionals. It is only to give you simple, proactive steps to help protect children.

Step 1: Learn the facts
Realities—not trust—should influence your decisions regarding your child.

Step 2: Minimize Opportunity
If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you’ll 
dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for your child.

Step 3: Talk about it
Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down 
by talking openly about it.

Step 4: Stay Alert
Don’t expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. 

Step 5: Make a Plan
Learn where to go, who to call and how to react. 

Step 6: Act on Suspicions
The future well-being of a child is at stake.

Step 7: Get involved
Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight the tragedy 
of child sexual abuse.

"My child's school has a program to teach children about sexual abuse prevention- but what about adults? Shouldn't we be responsible for the protection of children?"
A child's safety is an adult's job. Children are often taught how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse - and that's important for them to learn - but it's no substitute for adult responsibility. We make sure children wear seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We store toxic household cleaners out of reach. Why, then, would we leave the job of preventing child sexual abuse solely to children?

Imagine how difficult it is for a child to say "no" to a parent, a teacher, a coach, or clergy.

Even the adults we trust to protect children can't always be trusted. Coaches, teachers, clergy, and parents are authority figures children feel they can trust. Yet, a large percentage of those who sexually abuse children are from this group. These are adults who have the opportunity to "groom" children with affection and attention, making it difficult for children to identify certain behaviors as abuse. And they know that children have been taught to "mind" them. This is why programs that focus on adult responsibility are essential.

Step 1: Learn the Facts > >













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