Sex Abuse Awareness and Prevention
Safehive’s Sexual Abuse Prevention and awareness course is an essential course for your staff and volunteers if you serve children in any capacity. Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most suspect, and your organization needs to understand the basics of how to recognize, prevent, and respond to sexually inappropriate behavior with children. By the end of this course, learners will:
Recognize the importance of sexual abuse education.
Identify common signs of sexual abuse.
Understand who abusers are and how they operate.
Discover the most common grooming activities that abusers use.
Create a culture of safety from abusers within their organization.
Learn how to respond appropriately if somebody discloses abuse.
Sexual Abuse Overview
In this section, we introduce learners to some of the key concepts of sexual abuse prevention. We give a brief introduction, and offer some insight into why organizations like churches, non-profits, schools, and sports leagues are particularly vulnerable.
Excerpt from Module 1:
“Molesters target child-focused organizations because they correctly assume that they are easy targets. These organizations are easy targets for a variety of reasons. As you read through this list, think about if any of these true for your organization?
Your organization has lots of children (a target rich environment).
Children can easily slip out of direct supervision of an adult.
There is a high ratio of children to adult supervision.
There is always a pressing need for adult volunteer help to manage the various child programs.”
Understanding the Survivors
In this section, you’ll gain an understanding of the types of children that are more vulnerable than others. You’ll also learn why we call people who’ve suffered from sexual abuse “survivors” and not victims. Finally, you’ll learn about the short term and long term effects that a survivor of sexual abuse might experience.
Excerpt from Module 2:
“What do abusers look for in potential targets? Often the victims of child sexual abuse are those children who are emotionally or physically marginalized. Abusers target children who they profile as “needy.” However, ALL children need love and desire attention. Because of this, no child is safe from being targeted.
Predators will often seek out:
Children from single parent families. The single parent often welcomes someone’s offer to babysit in order to gain a much-needed break.
Children whose physical and emotional needs are not being met at home.
Children who are socially disengaged. Abusers target those who tend to be isolated and who play on the outskirts.
Children with developmental disabilities. As abhorrent as this is, the abuser knows that such a child will probably not be believed if they attempt to inform an adult of the abuse.”
UNDERSTANDING THE ABUSERS
In this module, learners will gain an understanding of how abusers think, groom, and maintain secrecy. The goal of this section is to gain insight into the inside behavior of pedophiles in order to begin to notice suspicious behavior that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Excerpt from Module 3:
“Typically, molesters will not simply wait for a random opportunity to get a child alone in order to commit a one-time rape. There is too much risk involved with such an approach. The child is more likely to report the rape to another adult due to the traumatic and sudden nature of the abuse. Moreover, the molester does not want a one-and-done affair, but wants to have a child available for long-term, repeated molestation. Hence, the need for grooming.
As chilling as this may sound, molesters actually use this term, “grooming.” It is a process that they intentionally employ to gain access to children. And they know to be successful, it takes patience, dedication, and persistence.”
HOW TO RESPOND TO DISCLOSURE
In the final section of the course, we give you direction on how to respond to somebody if they disclose that they have been or are actively being abused. It is vital that you respond in accordance with the law, your organization’s policies and procedures, as well as ensure that you will not do further psychological harm to the person in your response.
Excerpt from MODULE 4:
“The child is likely scared and ashamed and an emotional outburst or angry response will only serve to scare the child. Understand that the child has likely been groomed to believe that everything is their fault. They will likely filter your response through the grid of shame and will take things far more personally. That’s why creating a calm and ultimately safe environment is paramount.”
SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION COMMON QUESTIONS
How Long is the Course?
Safehive’s sexual abuse awareness and prevention course is about 35-40 minutes long. We do recommend, however, that you take your time with this course as the material can be jarring and shocking for those who are unfamiliar with the topic.
What can I do to help prevent sexual abuse of my children?
Unfortunately, more often than not, the abuser is somebody who is known and trusted by you and the child. The best policy is not to leave your young children alone with adults and other children that you don’t absolutely trust.
I think I may have been abused, what should I do?
The first place to start is disclosing your abuse to somebody. Winged Hope is an organization based in Arizona that helps survivors cope with and overcome the effects of sexual abuse. You should also seek out professional counseling in your area. Sexual abuse can lead to deep psychological trauma that a professional will help you work through.
What are some of the common SIDE effects of child sexual abuse?
Overly sexualized behavior
Difficulty walking and/or sitting
Unusual fear of specific people or places
Outbursts of anger
Has unexplained gifts and/or money
Talks about a new, older friend
Overly withdrawn or overly clingy
Self cutting and/or other self-harming behavior
Drastic changes in diet and food habits
Mood swings and sudden personality changes
Running away from home
Issues with sleep and nightmares
Fear of a particular older person
Pain during bowel movements or urination
Pain, bleeding, or discharges from the genitals
Are molesters typically strangers?
Most often they are not strangers. While we need to teach our children to not immediately trust strangers, this does very little to actually prevent sexual abuse. Why? Because a staggering 86% of abuse victims knew their abusers!
Often a person is abused by a close family relative or a family friend. Even moms and dads will abuse their own children and stories of older siblings abusing younger siblings are rampant.
What is involved in grooming?
The abuser will often introduce more explicit sexual material in a manner that will appear rather innocent or accidental and they build in plausible deniability every step of the way. For instance:
The abuser may leave pornographic magazines on the table for the child to discover. “I forgot those magazines were there. I am so sorry.”
The abuser may take a shower and “accidentally” drop the towel in front of the child. “The towel just slipped. I’m so embarrassed.”
The abuser may initiate inappropriate touching under the guise of tickling. “I thought the tickle fight was just having some fun.”
Of course, there is nothing innocent or accidental about it. The abuser is intentionally grooming the child for a sexually abusive relationship.
What are some common grooming activities?
Here are a number of common grooming activities to be aware of. Keep a watchful eye out for any such behaviors of adults within your organization.
Gift giving or money giving
Playful touching or tickling
Watching movies with nudity or sex
Frequently engaging and hosting kid-centered activities such as pool parties
Securing alone time with a child
Offering to help the child’s gatekeepers
Becoming a child’s close friend, confidant and secret-keeper
Secretly breaking rules with a child
How often does peer-to-peer abuse happen?
23% of reported cases of child sexual abuse are perpetrated by individuals under the age of 18 (U.S. Department of Justice National Sex Offender Public Website). Peer abusers are can be older children who possess some form of power over younger children but may also be a child of the same age. The child who is the perpetrator is typically also a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of an adult or have been exposed to pornography.