Sadly, many children in British Columbia are victims of abuse.
There are things we can do to protect our own children and the other children around us from abuse. Abuse prevention should focus on empowering children, not frightening them.
You can teach children to stay safe.
- Encourage the children in your life to talk to you about their day, every day (or as often as you see them).
- Teach them to tell you if an older person ever asks them to keep a secret.
- Make sure they know the difference between good touching (like a pat on the back or a quick hug for something done well) and bad touching, which is any touching that makes a child uncomfortable.
- Be sure they know it’s okay to say “no” to an older person – even if that person is someone they know and trust. Because the tragic truth is, most children who are abused are victims of people they know.
- As soon as they’re old enough, teach them their name, address, phone number, and parents’ names.
- Teach them to shout, “You’re not my mother!” or “You’re not my father!” if someone tries to take them away.
- Teach them to go to a sales clerk if they’re separated from you in a store.
- Teach them to go to a police officer if they’re in trouble and one is nearby. Never frighten your child by threatening to call the police if they do something wrong.
- Give your child a code word for emergencies. That way, strangers who don’t know the word won’t get far, even if they say something like, “Come with me to the hospital; your father has been hurt.”
- Teach your child to say “no” firmly. Practice shouting it with them. Give them permission to scream it if they’re in trouble.
Ways adults can prevent child abuse:
(Source: Ministry of Children and Families)
- Never shake a child – it’s one of the most dangerous things a parent or caregiver can do. Shaking a baby or young child can cause brain damage, blindness, and even death.
- Never leave a young child alone in a public place – not even for just a minute.
- Don’t put your child’s name on his clothing. A stranger can use it to gain her trust.
- Go along when a young child uses a public washroom, even if they protest.
- Never assume there’s someone else watching out for your child. Always know where they are and who’s looking after them.
- And, in case the worst happens, keep an up-to-date photo (no more than six months old) with your child’s height, weight, eye, and hair colour on the back, along with a description of any birthmarks.