October 26th – October 30th is 2020’s Five Days of Action. Today, we’re talking about how to be a “safe adult” for a child to turn to and count on if they’re in trouble or need help.
It is often difficult for children to understand what types of adult behaviors are inappropriate or dangerous. Nine in 10 victims of child sexual abuse are victimized by someone they know, love, or trust.
“Safe adults” are people whose words and actions make children feel safe. Trusted adults act this way both online and offline.
One key way to being a “safe adult” is to be educated in child abuse prevention. The Beau Biden Foundation offers multiple pieces of training that help adults recognize the signs of abuse, report abuse to the proper authorities, protect children and youth-serving organizations from grooming tactics, and help keep children safe online.
Before you join us for training, there are some things you can put into action now to help keep children safe from abuse, and letting children know you are someone they can trust. Here are a few tips from our partners at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC):
- Respect children’s bodies and boundaries
- Empower children to assert their boundaries and have control of their bodies from a young age. This means talking about consent at an early age. Children should understand that they can assert their boundaries and that in turn, they need to respect the boundaries of others.
- Listen and respond to children’s concerns
- When children approach you with safety concerns, it is important to take them seriously, even if they are seemingly small issues. By listening closely and treating the issue thoughtfully you help build confidence in children that they can trust you to help them when in trouble. This also helps empower them to be diligent about their safety.
- Be an informed resource
- It’s normal for children to use the Internet to look for information about sex, development, and relationships. However, they may not be finding the best or most appropriate information this way. Talking to children openly about healthy relationships and having ongoing and age-appropriate conversations about sexual development will help reduce the risk that they are exposed to unhealthy or unrealistic information online.
- Model and explain to other adults
- It can be hard to address the subject of child sexual abuse with family and friends, but avoiding these conversations is part of what allows it to continue. When practicing boundaries or listening and responding, be frank with the adults around you about why you are practicing these behaviors with the children in your life.
The keys to protecting children from abuse are not complicated. They are not controversial, nor hard to implement. When parents, caregivers, and families are informed — and educated — many tragedies can be avoided. Please help us protect children and confront abuse.