How prevent children sexual abuse?
According to National Catholic Services and The Archdiocese of Miami one of five women were sexual abused in her childhood and one of ten men suffered abuse too. It means that at least 40 millions people in United Stated suffered sexual abused during their childhood.
With these terrible statistics, parents are very concern in USA and around the world, especially with those pederasties cases inside Catholic Church. Society carries on with the consequences of this disgusting felony, that’s way the Archdiocese of Miami creates a program to avoid sexual abuse and stop things like this continue to happen. This program is made for parents and it is completely free, the name is: Virtus (www.virtusonline.org) “Protecting God’s Children”. Families can take the course in any parish of the Archdiocese and they don’t have to be catholic to take it.
Myth vs. Reality
The main idea of Virtus is to help prevent child sexual abuse. To accomplish that, parents need to know how identify abusers and how they act. According to Ivonne Magran, Virtus assistance, there are some myth that doesn’t help to stop child sexual abuse, some of those are:
1) Most of the abusers are estrangers, false, most of them are close to the family and they are people who have earn our trust.
2) Abusers are homosexuals, false most of then are heterosexuals.
3) Children lay about sexual abuse; false children always say the truth about that.
4) Priests are abusers because of their vote of chastity, false priest abuse children for the same reasons than others sexual abusers.
Virtus program have an action plan to avoid child sexual abuse. This plan has five steps. The first step is about knowing how the child molester acts They used to: play with children, touch them a lot while playing, give children presents and became their friends. They are very patient and smart on how earn the trust of parents and children. This trust allows them to manipulate parents, guardians and child victims, so parents have to be alert, because probable the one you must trust is the one you shouldn’t.
The second step is to control the access to minors. As a parent do you really know who is taking care of your child? Parents and guardians have the right to ask any person who is going to take care of kids for fingerprints and background check. It is very important to interview that people face to face, ask them for references. As a parent ask yourselves those questions: is there enough control to access my children? Do I really check all the references of people whose are taking care of my kid? Do I really know friends and parents of my children’s friends? Do I always know where my child is? Do I have control of Internet access, cellphones and social network that my child uses?
The third step is to avoid adult stay along with children in isolate area. As a parent you have to identify where are the areas at school, in the house, at the park. Then, you have to talk with your child about those areas and tell then never to go alone with someone there. For example, if you have an empty room, lock it and keep the key with you. Don’t let kids go to restricted areas. Also check if the Internet at school, library or other places that your child goes has a controlled access to uncensored pages.
The fourth step is to be alert about how your children are feeling. According to Ivonne Magran form Virtus Program; parents must know what happen to our children. As parents we have to listen then and believe what they say to us. Most of the time, child molesters may threaten to harm people that children love and then, the victims has to choose between their own safety and the safety of those they love, they feel confuse, so it is very important to remind children repeatedly: “if something make you feel bad, tell me no matter what, tell me first, not matter what the abuser says or does”
Other important point is to teach children about the different between safe and unsafe touch. Also tell them who are safe friends and adults and who are not. Tell your child: “Nobody have the right to touch you in a unsafe way, this behavior is not tolerable”.
The fifth step is to communicate our worries and feelings about our children or even friends children. As parent when we feel “there is something wrong” don’t let it pass. Which person you should talk to? 1) The Director or supervisor of the sexual predator, 2) Call the police or any emergency child abuse number.
According to Virtus, don’t be scare for consequences. If we don’t speak up we became accomplice to a crime. Victims felt guilty and ashamed to talk; nobody is going to judge them. If you say what is going on you can stop what is happening and prevent it for others.
Where find help
If you have a suspicious about any case of sexual abuse in your school, church or community or your child is a victim of a sexual predator, call: 1-800-96-abuse? 1-800-962-2873/1-800-342-9152. Other numbers are: Homeland Security Investigators (HIS) 1-800-347-2423, National Center for Child abuse (24 hours phone): 1-800-843-5678
If you know about child sexual abuse case in a catholic institution call the Archdiocese of Miami at: 305-987-1646/ 305-762-1262 or the Coordination for victims abuse: 1-866-80-abuse/ 1-866-802-2873.
If you need to know how to avoid any abuse on Internet go to: http://www.microsoft.com/security/family-safety/predators.aspx
Also the Homeland Security Investigators with the FBI make new applications for smart phone that has alert of child molesters and at the same time people can report abuse. The name is Operation Predator and you can download free on iTunes store.
If you want more information about Virtus training go to: www.virtusinline.org
Copyright © 2013 María Eugenia Fanti. All rights reserved
Photo by Stuart Miles / Courtesy of Freedigitalphotos