Caring 4 Kids
By Susan Wallace
Anyone who has ever held a baby, cared for a baby or fed a baby is struck with the extreme vulnerability and innocence of such dependent beings. We know humans take decades to develop and mature into their adult selves with many challenges and struggles along the way.
As a society, we keep learning better ways to improve child-rearing and parenting. Parents strive to support and listen with unconditional love regardless of the quality of parenting they endured.
We all realize that love, appreciation and connection are much more powerful than correction or punishment.
Many parents’ worst nightmares include being unable to protect their children from sexual abuse. We see parents across the US struggling with the shock and horror of finding out that their child was abused. We know that in 5 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.
While there may be no obvious signs during or in the aftermath of the abuse, over time we may notice unusual or sexualized behavior like a young child acting out sexually, trying to be sexual with another, usually younger child, or even trying to approach an adult in inappropriate ways that they witnessed or experienced.
It’s important for us as parents or other caring adults to know that when children act out or otherwise misbehave, they are telling us that they need help with something traumatic they have either witnessed or endured. While limits and consequences are necessary at times, punishment and isolation are not solutions – it is important in stressful moments to stop, breathe, and think about the best way to handle the situation.
We can keep lines of communication open by prioritizing our children’s needs and striving to maintain mutually loving and respectful relationships, knowing that this takes spending quality time together, listening more than we speak, and seeking adult/peer/professional support for ourselves.
Survivors Healing Center is committed to creating a community that recognizes trauma and does something about it. We envision a shift from sexual violence as a norm to respect and dignity for all. The Caring 4 Kids–End Child Sexual Abuse prevention program works to inform community members about the extent of trauma and lifelong impact of sexual abuse. We encourage a discussion on sexual violence, how to recognize the symptoms and how to respond individually and as a community. We need to build a world in which children’s autonomy and bodies are respected and parents know how to protect their children.
Please join us on March 24th at the Day of the Child event on Pacific Avenue. We will have educational color- ing books, resources and can answer any questions and discuss any concerns you may have. We are here to help.