In light of the recent sexual abuse case against Larry Nassar, which you can read about here, Inside Gymnastics and its parent company, Inside Publications, would like to encourage parents, caregivers, coaches and athletes to review the following tips and red flags to protect children from sexual abuse.
Tips for Parents and Caregivers
- Start at a young age (4) and talk with your children about their bodies, boundaries, safe and unsafe touches and secrets.
- Empower children that their bodies are special and belong to them.
- Empower your children that they have a voice and can say “NO” if something does not feel right or is uncomfortable.
- Tell your children they can talk with you about anything, and you will not be uncomfortable with what they say.
- Listen and remain “poker faced” no matter what they say so communication does not break down.
- Do NOT use the terms “good touch” or “bad touch” – it is too confusing as sexual abuse can feel good. Use Safe Touch and Unsafe touch.
- Do not hesitate to Report abuse. Reporting is crucial and adults need to trust their instincts and always err on the side of protecting children.
- Disclosure – always believe your children if they tell you they were abused (they will often tell indirectly). It is so rare for children to lie about abuse, and your belief can make them feel powerful and give them strength to start their healing.
- Tell your children it is never, ever their fault if they are abused. It is ALWAYS the abusers fault.
- Counseling immediately is important. Not just for the survivor but for the whole family. Click Here for resources
- Don’t treat survivors as victims and become overprotective of them. It is common for parents to want to put their child in a bubble when they have been hurt, but this can make a child feel more alienated than they already feel.
RED FLAGS: Physical Signs a Child May Be Abused
- Injury to the genital area
- Redness or rash in genital or anal area
- Problems walking or sitting
- Torn or bloody clothing
- Genital odors or itching
- Genital infections or venereal disease
- Picking Skin
To report child abuse: If you suspect that a child is being abused, report it to your state child abuse hotline or call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD). If you think that a child is in immediate danger from child abuse or neglect, then you should call 911.