CHERISH empowers child victims and their families to talk about what happened in a safe, secure and comfortable environment.  Talking about what happened helps law enforcement prosecute perpetrators and bring healing to a victim and his/her family. 

1. Children are seldom victims of sexual abuse.

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused by the time they are 18.  44 percent of rape victims are under the age of 18.  These statistics prove this to be an untrue statement.

2. This kind of thing doesn’t happen where we live.

Also untrue.  It happens everywhere, knowing no socio-economic or racial boundaries, no matter what religion you practice, and it can sneak in when you least expect it.

3. We don’t let our children go near strangers.

93 percent of all child sexual abuse occurs at the hands of someone known to the child and trusted by the parents.  Parents who teach only stranger danger are doing a disservice to their child.

4. My child is not old enough for this discussion.

Actually the appropriate age to begin the discussion about child abuse prevention is when a child is three years old.

5. I don’t want to scare my child.

Actually, when handled properly, children find the message empowering and are not frightened at all,  Parents don’t refrain from teaching fears about stormy weather or not crossing the street.  Teaching child abuse safety is just as important.

6. I would know if something happened to my child.

Child sexual abuse is actually difficult to detect.  There are often no visible signs, and the emotional and behavioral signs can be caused by a variety of triggers.

7. My child would tell me if something happened to him or her

Most children don’t immediately disclose.  They are typically told by the perpetrator that this is their little secret, not to tell because no one will believe them, people will tell them that it’s their fault, and telling will cause great sadness in the family.

8. We never leave our children alone with adults.

 Children can also be sexually abused by other children.  The same lessons that can help prevent children from being sexually abused by adults, can keep them safe from other children.  It’s also important to teach them the proper words for their private parts and who they can talk to if anyone touches them in a way that feels uncomfortable.

9. I don’t want to put thoughts in their head.

There’s no data to indicate that a child who has been taught about prevention is more likely to fabricate that they have been sexually abused.

10. It’s not going to happen to my child. 

Child sexual abuse is so pervasive that it could happen to any child.

  1. Source:  Jill Starishevsky, Safety Star Media, March 23, 2014.

Jill Starishevsky has written a book to help parents talk to their young child about sexual abuse called, My Body Belongs to Me, and can be found at http://www.mybodybelongstome.com/ .