Columnist: Watch out for red flags of child sex abuse
Child sexual abuse is a multiheaded monster that threatens our community, shattering the physical and emotional lives of many children.
One of its heads includes intimidation, lies and deceit that sexual abusers use to catch their prey.
Another is overconfidence of parents who need to work, leaving their children under the care of unscrupulous people who take advantage of childhood innocence.
Abuse of alcohol and other drugs also increases the risk of children becoming victims.
There are other issues, such as the carelessness and indifference of many parents who may suspect their children are being abused, but believe it or not, would rather ignore the situation and let things be.
Most of the time the sexual abuse is committed by an acquaintance who may be a child’s sibling, neighbor, coach, friend, grandparent, religious leader, counselor, teacher, parent partner or, in the worst scenario, a parent.
Offenders who target children employ a variety of methods to gain sexual access. Some groom their victims into compliance with attention and gifts, while others use threats, alcohol or other drugs, or physical force.
In July 2015, the Time magazine published a statement by Joseph Campbell of the FBI Criminal Investigation Division that the agency considered child sexual abuse at “almost epidemic levels.”
Have you ever thought if your children are at risk of being sexually abused?
Pedophiles and other sex offenders are always lurking, which sometimes parents ignore.
We think that won’t happen to our children — and that is precisely the biggest mistake. We tend to ignore excessive demonstrations of affection to our children by family or friends.
Watch for warning signs. The monster of child sexual abuse sneaks everywhere, especially in overcrowded conditions, such as multiple families or people cohabiting in the same house or apartment.
It also operates under conditions of poverty, dysfunction or individuals who maybe isolated and poorly connected with community resources. This gives offenders more confidence regarding their crime not being reported if discovered.
The River Bridge Regional Center in Glenwood Springs provides prevention classes for parents on this topic. They are regularly providing support services for the community to be more informed.
The first step in preventing abuse of children is notifying your local police department of any suspicion of mistreatment, reporting it with your family doctor, at your child’s school or simply by dialing 911.
In many cases the offender has an accomplice — this should not be you.
Do not be afraid to report. Pedophiles, child molesters and abusers are mentally ill. They need help to stop hurting children. Their crimes may include child sexual abuse, statutory rape, offenses involving child pornography, child grooming, stalking and indecent exposure.
Unfortunately, many of these crimes go unpunished. Few come to light for fear of the reprisal.
Many of us have been abused or have friends who have been in this situation and, sadly, talk about this only after many years have passed and the aftermath of abuse has overwhelmed the victim.
It is important to understand that child sexual abuse is a reality that affects our community; we must learn to prevent it, fight it and inform about it, no matter who the abuser is.
Let us talk about it openly with our children and avoid placing them in high-risk situations.
If you are an abuser or fear that you could be one, ask for help. You must understand that this behavior is a disorder that can be treated.
A complaint prevents many children from being hurt and many lives from being torn apart.
Our ecosystem of hope is your bravery; please be courageous and raise your voice against this crime, you should do it, you can do it and you have to do it.
Eloisa Duarte, an active volunteer, has a degree in communications and a passion for education. Reach her at email@example.com. Her column appears on the third Thursday of each month.
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