How to protect your kids from predators like Sandusky | Amy Johnson
By AMY JOHNSON
Federal Way Mirror Sex in the Suburbs
August 13, 2012 · 3:59 PM
This fall, when your kids go back to school — back to sports and drama and band and scouts and everything else — be a savvy parent.
Let’s review some key happenings this summer:
• In June, Jerry Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual molestation.
• In July, an FBI report showed that Sandusky’s superiors at Penn State knew about the abuse for 14 years, yet those who knew did nothing to stop it. They were, apparently, more concerned about the football program than children being molested.
This is not a call for parents to freak out about every adult with whom your child comes into contact. Not every coach (or youth leader or band director or teacher or neighbor or person who loves kids) molests them.
Yet, it can be a difficult task to distinguish predators from those really great people that you want to be in your village and help raise your kids.
Here are some things that should raise a red flag and cause you to take extra care with your child:
• Does this older teen or adult prefer to be around children, rather than people his or her own age?
• Does this person have poor boundaries? Do they refuse to stop wrestling or tickling when a child says stop?
• Do they shower your child with praise and gifts and offers to chaperone that are consistently above and beyond what would be expected in their role?
• Are they attached to just one child, as opposed to showing equal care and concern for all the children they are around?
• Do they prefer alone time with one child as opposed to group activities with that child?
• Do you have an uncomfortable feeling, anxiety, or questions when you see this person interact with children?
If any of these signs are present, keep an extra alert eye out with your children. Do not leave your child alone with someone with these characteristics, and watch your child’s behavior.
Here are some common signs of child sexual abuse:
• Sudden changes in behavior
• Acting out sexually with other children
• Sexual knowledge beyond what is appropriate for their age
• Detachment from peers
• Not wanting to be around a particular adult
Many of these signs are also indicators of other issues, like physical abuse and bullying, so be cautious in jumping to conclusions. However, if you start seeing multiple issues on both lists, you may want to consider consulting a professional.
Keep in mind that about 90 percent of the time, the child knows the abuser. It can be a relative, family friend, or someone in the community the child has contact with at school or through an activity.
One of the best defenses to sexual abuse is educated kids. Children are less likely to be victims when they are aware of their bodies and body parts, have information about private areas and boundaries, and are taught to pay attention to that funny feeling inside that says something is wrong.
Children should also be taught the difference between secrets and surprises. A surprise is something that a person will find out, and is good, like a birthday present or party. If someone tells a child to keep a secret from a parent, that child should know to immediately tell you. Predators often manipulate children into thinking you will be upset or they will get in trouble if they tell.
For resources to use with children to educate them and prevent abuse, go to www.diligentjoy.com/resources.html. If you suspect your child has been abused, contact King County Sexual Assault Resource Center at (888) 998-6423 for help and information.
Contact Federal Way Mirror Sex in the Suburbs Amy Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.