In the basic law of need/demand as far as community services goes, there are few that are as heart-wrenching as those which help address the need to prevent and educate the public about child abuse. For the vast number of people, the idea of harming a child is unthinkable, yet there is a sizable percentage of our population who is or was abused or neglected in some way as a child. Either the statistics are lying, or our community is in a serious place as far as our general treatment of our most precious assets - our children.
Who is abusing our children?
Sadly, while parents teach their children about stranger danger, the child is more likely to be abused by a relative, family friend, neighbor, Scout Leader, etc. Some studies suggest that less than 3% of all children abused are actually abused by a complete stranger. This leaves the overwhelming majority of child abuse happening with someone with whom the child is acquainted and usually trusts.
There are commonly two types of child predators - preferential and situational abuser. Those who are preferential abusers are sexually attracted to and prefer children as sexual partners to adults. They are very hard to rehabilitate and will go to great lengths to isolate children.
Situational abusers are those who abuse based on an opportunity arising. These abusers will abuse their own children. Many situational abusers find children to abuse through slumber parties, etc.
What can people do to protect their children?
There are many nonprofit family services agencies available to assist families should the need help in educating their children (they have great resources), doing workshops for parents, and giving support to families who are have found themselves in a crisis involving child abuse. These agencies can give referrals to professionals, therapy for parents and their children and help families navigate the legal questions that arise when a child is abused.
Many times, having assistance and documentation of a third party in cases of child abuse is very valuable to the court system. As such, getting outside help is critical, not only for the healing balm for the family, but to provide assistance. Some nonprofits offer victim's assistance in which they are there to assist the family throughout a legal process. Caseworkers can become witnesses in court and present logs of their interaction (which with the advances in technology can be stored in nonprofit software programs and accessed on the spot) with the victims and be able to illustrate and illuminate the judges on the extent of the abuse.
There are no easy answers when a child is abused. Using resources in your community can help you and your children to move forward while facing one of the most horrible things that a parent can imagine.