Protecting Teens From Sexual Abuse

By Pamela S Stevens
FOLLOW US
SHARE

When it comes to sexual abuse, protecting teens is complicated. Teenagers seek relationships outside the family for friendship, security and even advice. In addition, they may be confused or embarrassed about their own developing sexuality, which makes communication difficult and protecting them nearly impossible.

What Can Parents Do?
One of the first things a parent can do is be realistic. Abuse is common: statistics quote about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually abused before they reach the age of 18. Secondly, most abusers are known by the victim. Many studies suggest about 80 to 90 percent of abusers knew their victim. Lastly, teens are learning about sex. Often their sources may not be the best places to get the facts on sex. These sources include their friends, pornography or first-hand experiences.

Don’t Put Discussions Off
By the time your child reaches puberty it may be too late, either communication lines have already been shut down or something may have already happened to them. It is your job to take the first steps in opening the lines of communication and talking to your child about their personal rights and personal boundaries in an age appropriate manner.

Generally, by the time your child is four or five they should fully understand that their body is theirs, that no one should be touching them inappropriately, and that they have the right to leave a situation that makes them uncomfortable. They should also know that if someone does tries to touch them or does touch them inappropriately, they should tell you immediately. By the time your child is eight they should be aware of the changes that are soon to take place in their own bodies. By 11 or 12 kids should fully understand the consequences of sex and know what is appropriate and inappropriate in dating.

Build a Strong Support System
Studies show that incidences of high-risk teen behavior are less in families where teens feel that they are respected and supported as an individual. Before your child reaches the teenage years they should feel that they can talk to you about anything without worrying about being yelled at, ridiculed, embarrassed or experiencing fear. Even though some topics may be hard to discuss, it’s likely your child will not talk to you in the future if you become excited and overreact. Speak to your child logically and with respect and try to understand their needs as an individual. With this kind of support, hopefully your teen will feel comfortable discussing their concerns with you or coming to you for help.

Educate Yourself
The more you learn the more you can help your child. Before any major discussion with your child study the topic so you can answer their questions and they can learn to depend on you for valid answers. If they come to you with a question and you respond by giving them a pamphlet of information, they may think you are not open to further conversation. Educational pamphlets can be helpful, but they should be accompanied by open communication.

Help Your Children Define Their Personal Rights
Believe it or not, many teens who get caught up in an inappropriate relationship with an adult (or even someone their own age who is an abuser) blame themselves. They do not know what their personal rights are or what kind of behavior to expect from adults. Teach your children that it is okay to say no and that they do not have to do anything they don’t want to do. Often kids think they are supposed to respect their elders and be nice, so they go along with things that make them uncomfortable because they feel obligated.

Teens should understand that:

  • Their bodies are theirs.
  • Past permission does not obligate them to future activity.
  • They do not have to do anything they don't want to do.
  • They should trust their instincts.
  • It is not okay for them to engage in sexual behavior with adults.
  • It is not okay for adults to take pictures or video of them in sexual positions or unclothed.
  • Regardless of how they dress or talk, it does not constitute permission.
  • Pornography is not an accurate depiction of real life.
  • They deserve to be spoken to with respect and never feel coerced.
  • Alcohol and drugs may make it hard for them to maintain their boundaries and can cloud their judgment.
  • Touching someone sexually while they are drunk is abuse.
  • Adults should not discuss their sexual fantasies or share pornography with minors.
  • No one has the right to touch them without their permission.


If they are in a relationship they should also understand that:

  • Both parties respect each others personal rights and boundaries in a healthy relationship.
  • They should decline sexual relations with anyone who refuses to use proper protection.
  • Not everyone is having sex. Many teens wait and that is perfectly okay.

Help Them Build Up Their Self Esteem
Often low self esteem is a pivotal factor in risky teen behavior. Teens who do not feel good about themselves or who are at odds with their family may turn to other adults for support. This type of behavior is extremely dangerous: this is exactly what abusers are looking for. They approach the teen and take advantage of their low self esteem, give gifts like liquor or drugs, further isolate them from the family, and attempt to become their ”friend.” In addition, teens that do not have money are also often a target and may be bribed with gifts or money.

To counteract this danger you should help your teen find something that they can feel good about; it could be a hobby, a sport, work or art. Teach your child how to earn money legitimately without having to give up their pride or self worth. Hobbies or employment can help them feel confident, build a sense of accomplishment and value their individuality. Teach them how to take care of themselves. Help children feel empowered and in control of their own lives rather than feeling like a victim. Give them responsibility. Communicate how much you value their independence, accomplishments and their ability to be responsible, while letting them know you are supportive and available.

If All Else Fails or It Is Too Late
Get help. Abuse is something that needs to be stopped, not ignored. Offenders should be turned in. Seek counseling for abused children to help alleviate confusion, anger and possible self esteem issues. Never blame the child for the abuse. Teens who have been with adults are considered non-consenting. Parents should also seek help to learn how to get through their hurt and anger and find ways to help their child and family connections heal.

In summary, it is important that your teen feel comfortable talking to you about sexual topics, know their personal boundaries and have the confidence to voice their rights. If abuse has happened, get help and turn the person in, silence only protects the abuser.

At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™

Resources
Darkness to Light. (2005). Statistics, Prevalence and Consequences of Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.darkness2light.org/KnowAbout/statistics_2.asp

National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. (n.d.). Facts for Teens: Teen Dating Violence. from http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/teens/docs/dating.pdf

(n.d.). Protecting Teens: Beyond Race, Income and Family Structure. Retrieved from http://209.85.165.104/search?q=cache:tjsg860Rg1oJ:www.doe.state.in.us/sdfsc/pdf/protectingteens.
pdf+protecting+teens&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=11&gl=us&client=firefox-a

(2000). Stop It Now! - Warning Signs About Child Sexual Abuse. Retrieved February 9, 2007, from http://www.stopitnow.com/warnings.html

(n.d.). Talking With Kids About: Sex. Retrieved February 12, 2007, from http://www.talkingwithkids.org/sex.html

Ads

Ads
 
Web Services » Home / Lifestyles » Sex Offender Registry Review » Protecting Teens From Sexual Abuse