Posted Nov 19, 2012 @ 03:01 AM
The growing number of child sexual abuse cases is frightening. And it sends a strong message that we all need to remain vigilant in raising awareness to this horrendous crime so that more children will come forward if they have been victimized.
Parents or other caregivers, don’t put off addressing this issue. Have an age-appropriate discussion with your child today. It’s one of the most important things you’ll ever do.
Scandals abound. The latest comes from Britain, where police said last week that a renowned BBC TV host who died last year was one of the nation’s worst pedophiles, possibly abusing several hundred children. Meanwhile, the Penn State scandal percolates a year later, with former president Graham Spanier facing charges that he lied about and concealed child sex abuse allegations involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Sandusky is serving up to 60 years in prison after being convicted of abusing young boys over a 15-year period.
Also last week, Trenton Town Supervisor Mark Scheidelman was charged with felony sex abuse, accused of abusing a 7-year-old boy. Police say Scheidelman, 52, might have abused others over the past three decades, and are asking alleged victims to come forward.
Earlier this year, it was announced that reports of sexual abuse against children in Oneida County steadily increased between 2005 and 2009. If there’s any ray of hope in this, it’s that more children are coming forward to report abuse because of heightened awareness.
Talking about such things with our kids can be uncomfortable. But there are many agencies such as the YWCA Mohawk Valley, Oneida County Child Advocacy Center or Mohawk Valley office of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that can provide information for discussing this with your child.
Don’t put it off. Begin a dialogue now and help your child understand that they must come to you if they are uncomfortable with anything. And by all means, if you suspect abuse, report it by calling the YWCA’s 24-hour confidential hotlines: 866-4120 in Herkimer County; 797-7740 in Oneida County. You can also call the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center at 732-3990.
Tips for parents, caregivers
-- Talk. Maintain a dialogue with children identifying good touch versus bad touch and helping them understand that their bodies belong to them.
-- Tone down the stranger danger. While children need to be aware of strangers and how to keep themselves safe, the vast majority of child sexual abusers are individuals the child knows, such as a parent or other relative, a teacher, coach, clergy, neighbor or family friend.
-- Break the silence. Child sexual abuse thrives on secrecy. Children need to be able to tell a trusted adult if someone tries to hurt or touch them inappropriately.
-- Get educated. Encourage professional prevention programs in the local school system and throughout the community.
— YWCA Mohawk Valley