As parents and guardians, we try to teach our kids countless ways to keep themselves safe, even at a young age. Think about all the times you told your child to chew his or her food really well, look both ways before crossing the street, and so on. Teaching our children about personal space and boundaries is just as important as these other life lessons.
Did you know that well-defined boundaries and a clear understanding of one’s “personal space” are crucial elements to preventing abuse? And teaching kids these concepts early on is crucial, as 20 percent of sexually abused children experience the abuse before the age of eight according to www.D2L.org.
As they mature, children should be informed of the concept of their own personal space – this imaginary boundary or line that prevents things such as unwanted touching, contact, words, images and feelings from making them feel uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, there are men and women who do not respect or acknowledge that a child, or any person for that matter, has a right to his or her personal space. When this boundary is not respected and/or is crossed, inappropriate behaviors might occur. It is also a red flag to watch out for if abuse of any type is suspected.
So how can you determine if an adult that has access to your child is not a respecter of personal space? Consider the following common signs and behaviors:
Red Flags Regarding Personal Space
Has a tendency to make other people uneasy because of his or her refusal to acknowledge physical, emotional or social boundaries.
Continues to or insists on ticking, wrestling, hugging, touching, holding or kissing a child after the child has made it clear he or she does not want this attention.
Regularly walks in on children while they are dressing or using the bathroom.
Red Flags Regarding Relationships with Children
Shares private, personal information with a child in search of physical or emotional comfort.
Spends excessive time communicating with a child through text messaging, phone calls, emails, social media, etc.
Conducts secret interactions and meetings with children where alcohol, drugs, games, or sexual material is present.
Manipulates situations or manages to get alone time with a child regularly.
Frequently gives money or buys presents for a child for no reason, or offers to babysit for free on a regular basis.
Doesn’t hold a child responsible for his or her inappropriate behavior.
Red Flags Regarding Sexual Behaviors and Communication
Regularly tells dirty or inappropriate sexual jokes around or to a child.
Regularly points our sexual or suggestive images with a child present.
Seems overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child (such as the child’s body maturing, dating information, etc.)
Why This Matters
Prevention of sexual abuse in our society is critical, as every 107 seconds someone in America is being sexually abused. This type of abuse has a lasting effect on a child and a family, so knowing the warning signs and which behavior of adults to watch out for is vital for the continued safety of your child.
What You Can Do
Join Trees of Hope for one of our upcoming Prevention events (with our next event happening this April), and also check out our SAP- Sexual Abuse Prevention magazine that can be digitally downloaded here.
To learn more about the mission behind Trees of Hope, watch this video, or register today to join one of our sexual abuse healing groups that are gender specific, survivor-led, and specially designed for young men and women, adult males, and adult females.
The entire Trees of Hope team wants to help you learn tangible ways to help keep your child free from harm from those with ill intentions. Reach out today to learn more!