As part of Child Abuse Prevention Month, First Witness in Duluth has been posting child abuse prevention tips to its website and Facebook page every weekday. Listed below are some of the tips that have been posted, as provided by Beth Olson, executive director of First Witness.
• When speaking to children about safety, remember that children are most often abused by family members or people known to the family. “Stranger danger” should not be your only focus.
• Educate yourself on alternatives to physical discipline.
• Don’t be afraid to take a “parent timeout” if you feel like you may hurt your child.
• It is normal for children to ask questions about their bodies. When they do have questions, be calm, receptive, and encourage them to continue coming to you in the future.
• Let children set boundaries for their bodies, and respect these boundaries. If they don’t like tickles or backrubs, teach them it is okay to say “No” to these touches from anyone, including adults.
• Teach children that no one should ask them to keep secrets about body-touches and that all “secret touches” are unsafe touches.
• Allow your children to decide how to say hello and goodbye to family and friends. If your child doesn’t want to hug or kiss, offer handshakes or high-fives.
• Speak up when you see inappropriate behavior between adults and children. Abuse is encouraged and enabled by silence.
• Place your computer in a public space in your home so that you can keep an eye on your child(ren)’s internet usage.
• Encourage your children to trust their instincts about unsafe situations. If a situation feels unsafe or risky, trust that it is, and give them ways to get out.
• Educate family members on guidelines you have set up for your children regarding their bodies and privacy.
• Learn where to report child abuse disclosures in your community.
• For more child abuse prevention tips, visit www.firstwitness.org.