- Child Abuse
- Refusal Strategies
- Every 13 seconds, a child is abused or neglected.
- One in four girls and one in seven boys will encounter some form of sexual abuse while they are children.
- Abuse during childhood increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile by 53 percent, arrest as an adult by 38 percent and the likelihood of violent crime by 38 percent.
- Being abused or neglected in childhood increases the likelihood of arrest for females by 77 percent.
- Seventy-seven percent of child abuse perpetrators are parents; 11 percent are other relatives; 2 percent are baby sitters or foster parents; 10 percent are non-caretakers or strangers.
Possible Signs of Sexual Abuse
- having adult-like knowledge of sex
- behaving in a sexual way
- having sleep problems such as nightmares, bed-wetting, trouble falling asleep
- having eating problems-from overeating to anorexia
- not wanting to be left alone
- acting young or babyish
- running away from home
- skipping school
- acting differently than usual
Possible Signs of Physical Abuse
- frequent injuries that are described as "accidents" or are "unexplained," including:
- bruises, bite marks, cigarette burns, missing hair or teeth, cuts
- broken bones
- delayed medical attention; different "stories" about what happened to cause injuries
- aggression toward others or objects
- withdrawal, turning away from others
- fearfulness, anxiety
- not wanting to go home
Keeping Children Safe
A trusted adult should be told about any abusive situation-no matter who is doing the abuse. Children need to know whom to tell, what to tell and how to go about telling. Teachers, school counselors and other trusted adults should be safe people in whom children can confide.
Sometimes, especially in an abusive situation, just saying no or trying to refuse in other ways is not enough. Sometimes the child cannot stop the abuse. Not all adults, not even all parents, act in the best interest of children.
Adults or older youth may force themselves on a child and hurt the child physically or sexually. In such a situation, children should whatever they can do to keep from getting hurt worse. Once they are away from the situation, they should tell someone they trust to help keep them safe. Abusers often threaten their victims and seem to have all the power over them. However, they can be stopped. Encourage students to tell someone and get help.
Many people face situations in which they are asked to do something they don't want to do or are not sure about. Everyone has the right to say no to something she or he does not feel comfortable with, even though saying no is not always easy to do.
People may not be able to say "no" for a number of reasons, such as worry about how others will respond or may be affected. Thinking through some difficult situations and practicing saying no ahead of time may help people know how to act in a real situation.
However, refusal strategies may not always keep a child safe. If the refusal strategies don't work or a child is too frightened to try them, the abuse is still not the child's fault.
Refusal strategies include:
1. Say no firmly.
Give a clear "no" statement. Back up your words with your behavior.
- Speak clearly and firmly.
- Use facial expressions that say no, not maybe.
- Use gestures or actions that say no, not maybe.
- Words: "No, that's not a good idea."
- Actions: Shake your head no. Move on to something else.
- Words: "My mom's not home. You'll have to come back later."
- Actions: Close the door.
- Words: "Don't touch me."
- Actions: Walk away.
2. Just walk away.
- If you feel you could be hurt, don't be concerned about appearing rude. You can always apologize and explain later.
3. Provide a reason.
- Example: · "My mom doesn't want me to let anyone in the house when she's not home."
4. Change the subject.
- Take charge of the situation by changing the subject or suggesting another idea.