When talking about sexual abuse, the usual assumption is that it involves an adult taking advantage of an innocent child. But what happens when the predator is another child? Think about other kids in the neighborhood, older children in school, teammates and even other children in the family such as cousins.
Unfortunately, about one-third of all sexual abuse offenses are committed by children under the age of 18. You’re probably thinking about how you could ever trust anybody who interacts with your child and how overwhelming the potential danger is. Here at Trees of Hope, we want to give you the tools and information necessary to understand how child on child sexual abuse can occur and how to prevent it so your children can grow up to embrace life while also staying safe.
How Does Child on Child Sexual Abuse Happen?
Power differences such as being older or being physically bigger in size can be used to commit sexually abusive acts. Pay attention to who your child interacts with and don’t be afraid to ask necessary questions:
If they are spending a large amount of time with older kids then they may be at risk.
Keep in mind that abuse can occur at school, within sports teams, throughout the neighborhood, and even at home.
What type of games does your child play with older individuals? How much physical contact is involved in those games?
Does your child have a “secret hideaway” with others? Having a private place to sneak away to could be a gateway towards getting your child alone and committing sexually harmful behaviors.
Tips on Identifying and Preventing Abuse
Often, children may not disclose their experience due to feelings of confusion, shame, guilt, blame, and embarrassment. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the parent to stay active and aware of the behavioral warning signs to identify and prevent potential abuse.
If your child is suddenly resistant to be in the same place as another child, it may a warning sign that inappropriate contact has occurred.
Provide constant supervision - avoid leaving your child alone with others during playdates or sporting events.
Establish clear personal boundaries rules of respect for your child.
Get to know teachers, coaches, neighbors, and other parents - share this information with them to better protect your child.
Reassure your child that they are in a judgment-free environment so they can express their thoughts and feelings freely with you.
Don’t minimize inappropriate behavior - sometimes it’s not just “kids being kids”, its abuse. We know the reality of child on child abuse can be extremely alarming for a parent. However, the fact that you are reading this right now is a great step towards being an active parent and providing the information, empowerment, and resilience that your child needs to live a life protected from abuse.