The importance of talking to children about sexual abuse
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Dear Editor,

CHILDLINK Guyana recently launched its Caring For Boys research as part of the One Thousand Boys initiative. This initiative and the associated research highlights the sexual violence that young boys face. It comments on various factors that make them vulnerable and which deter reporting of abuse against them.

Child Sexual Abuse is very commonplace, but despite this, there is still a reluctance of many adults to have open conversations with their children about it. Seen as “impolite” conversation, sexual violence is often relegated to the shadows and often only comes up until someone unfortunately becomes a victim.

In the Caring For Boys research findings, it was indicated that the lack of communication within families on sexual abuse continues to see many being unprepared and uninformed about what sexual violence is and the various forms it can take. This is especially true for young boys, as they are not usually afforded the same conversations parents might have with young girls. Hence, in contrast to boys, girls continue to benefit from more discussions on the issue. This lack of communication often makes children extremely vulnerable to abusers, particularly pre-pubescent boys who often lack information on their sexuality and bodies.

This lack of communication is based on several factors such as, sexual abuse being seen as a taboo topic, lack of knowledge by parents themselves about what constitutes sexual abuse, and lack of skills to communicate effectively with children.

For positive caretakers who aim to create safe and nurturing environments for their children, honest and age-appropriate conversations surrounding sex and sexual abuse must be had. Young persons must be taught that sex in itself is not bad, but must be done safely and with consent. Equipping them with knowledge about things such as sexual grooming, molestation and rape will enable them to readily identify these occurrences within their environments and to seek out the support that is needed. While most parents tend to begin having these conversations with children when they are teenagers, having them earlier can be even more helpful. Sharing age- appropriate information with young children on these issues will not only make them more knowledgeable, it will lessen their vulnerability and create an environment in which they know they can have open discussions about the things that affect them and those close to them.

Yours sincerely,

Akola Thompson
Blue Umbrella Consultant, ChildLinK
To report or to seek counselling, please call 914/227-0979/227-2023/233-3500

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