If You Suspect A Child Has Been Abused, Contact
Mississippi Division of Child Protective Services
1.800.222.8000 or 601.432.4570
ON AVERAGE, 1 OUT OF 4 GIRLS AND 1 OUT OF 6 BOYS ARE SEXUALLY ABUSED BEFORE THEY REACH AGE 18.
68% OF PERPETRATORS ARE FAMILY MEMBERS, AND 90% ARE SOMEONE THE CHILD KNOWS
Research indicates that 25% of children are sexually abused prior to their 18th birthday. Most children are molested by someone they are related to or know very well; like relatives, neighbors or family friends. One study indicated that 1 out of every 10 men has molested a child.
Despite the high rate of child sexual abuse, only 16% of child victims are able to tell someone that they are being abused and only 3% of sex offenders are caught and prosecuted. Most offenders are able to "get away with" molesting children for years before they are reported to law enforcement.
What these facts tell us is that all parents, caretakers and community members must educate themselves about sexual abuse and sex offenders in order to improve their ability to protect children. It is important for people to understand how "normal" sex offenders look and how easily they can gain access to children, isolate them and manipulate them into thinking the abuse is "ok."
Offenders also make children feel guilty and responsible for the abuse. These dynamics make it very hard for children to tell anyone what is happening to them.
- I am probably well known and liked by you and your child.
- I can be a man or woman, married or single.
- I can be a child, adolescent or adult.
- I can be of any race, hold any religious belief, and have any sexual preference.
- I can be a parent, step-parent, relative, family friend, teacher, clergyman, babysitter or anyone who comes in contact with children.
- I am likely to be a stable, employed, respected member of the community.
- My education and my intelligence don't prevent me from molesting your child.
I can be anybody. Parents can defeat me if they work together. Educate yourself, your family and your community.
Remember, once I start, I will do everything possible to continue molesting your child. I am sexually turned on by kids and I enjoy being sexual with them. If I have had a lot of practice, I can become very skilled at offending. I will not stop on my own. I am very selfish and do not care if my behavior is hurting your child.
After I’ve begun molesting your child, I maintain his cooperation and silence through guilt, shame, fear and, sometimes, “love.”
- I convince your child that he/she is responsible for my behavior.
- I make your child think no one will believe him/her if he/she tells on me.
- I tell your child that you will be disappointed in him/her for what he/she has done “with” me.
- I warn your child that he/she will be the one who will be punished if he/she talks.
- I may threaten your child with physical violence against him/her, you, a pet or another loved one.
- I may have gotten the child to feel sorry for me or believe that he/she is the only one who understands me.
- If I am a parent or live in a home with children, my behavior may look accidental. I may “accidentally” expose myself or “accidentally” walk in on children while they are using the bathroom or changing clothes.
- If I am a father, my behavior might look “normal” to other people. I may use situations like tucking the kids in at night to touch them sexually.
- I may have told my children that “this is what all fathers do with their children” so they don’t know to tell.
- I may be so good at manipulating children that they may try to protect me because they love me.
Don’t feel that your child is safe from me! At least one out of every four children will be molested by the age of eighteen.
Here are some ways to protect children from me:
- Don’t expect your child to be able to protect him/herself from me or assume that he/she will be able to tell you that I am abusing him/her.
- Communication: listen, believe and trust what your child tells you. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.
- Education: teach your child healthy values about sexuality. If you don’t teach your child… I will.
- Watch for any symptoms of sexual abuse your child might demonstrate. An excellent guide for teaching children about sexual abuse is A Very Touching Book by Jan Hindman; for teens, No is Not Enough by Caren Adams, Jennifer Fay and Jan Loreen‐Martin; for adults, By Silence Betrayed by John Crewdson.
- Give your child specific information about where on his/her body he/she should not be touched or touch others.
- Let him/her know that people who touch children’s private parts need help because they have a problem with touching.
- Remind your child that “secret touching” is never the child’s fault. Talk to your child about the ways someone might try to “trick” him/her into going along with the “secret touching” or not telling you that it is happening.
- Make sure your child knows that you want him/her to tell you immediately if something should happen and that, despite what anyone else may tell him/her, he/she will not be in trouble.
- Get to know your child’s friends and the homes in which your child plays.
- Be wary of older children or adults who want to spend a lot of time alone with your child.
- Trust your intuition: if you feel something is not right in your child’s relationships, act on it.
- Learn about the prevention program that your school uses and discuss it with your children. Have “safety talks” with your children several times a year. Add information about the risk of encountering sexually explicit material and adult offenders in the community and on the internet.
- Almost one-quarter of children are exposed to “unwanted” pornography via the internet. Use an ISP that offers screening for obscenity and pornography.
It is very easy to gain access to your child.
- I pay attention to your child and make him/her feel special.
- I present the appearance of being someone you and your family can trust and rely on.
- I get to know your child’s likes and dislikes very well.
- I go out of my way to buy gifts or treats your child will like.
- I isolate your child by involving him/her in fun activities so we can be together—alone.
- If you are a single parent, I may prey on your fears about your child's lacking of a father figure or a stable home life.
- If my career involves working with children, I may also choose to spend my free time helping children or taking them on “special outings” by myself.
- I take advantage of your child’s natural curiosity about sex by telling “dirty” jokes, showing him/her pornography and by playing sexual games.
- I will probably know more about what kids like than you do: music, clothing, video games, language, etc.
- I make comments like, “Anyone who molests a child should be shot!” or “Sexually abusing a kid is the sickest thing anyone can do.”
- If I am a parent, it is even easier for me to isolate, control and molest my own children. I can sexually abuse my children without my wife ever suspecting a thing. I gradually block the communication between my children and their mother, and make it look like I’m the “good guy.”
- I may touch your child in your presence so that he/she thinks you are comfortable with the way I touch him/her.