This week I watched a horrifying story on Dr. Phil about a mother who remarried and whose three girls endured years of sexual abuse by their stepfather. It was just absolutely gut-wrenching to hear what these girls endured.
While I felt for the mom, a part of me couldn’t grasp how 8 years of this could go by and she had absolutely no clue. In fact, at one point Dr. Phil asked her if looking back now, could she see signs and she still says no.
I certainly don’t want to point any fingers at her but what I am saying is that as a mother I cannot imagine not at the very least sensing was something amiss. I feel like I know my children enough that I would be able to get a vibe from them that something is going on. I mean, they can come home from school and I can usually tell if they had a bad day.
But at any rate, Dr. Phil later in his show went on to provide some risk factors that parents need to be aware of in order to protect their children. There are certain circumstances where the risk of a child being abused is greater.
One is children who have stepparents. I think at any time you invite a new person into your family, you need to be especially cautious. Don’t let love blind you.
Another is when a family is under stress and pressure, making children vulnerable to someone who might come along and become their “Savior.” What Dr. Phil specifically mentioned are families who work so much that there isn’t much time for the children, whether that is a single mom or a married couple where both work full-time jobs.
Another risk factor is when children are taught to be obedient to authority or adults, no questions asked. In other words, instilling in our children that no matter what they have to listen to them. This can lead to them being afraid to defend themselves. So while we do need to teach them respect for adults, we also have to teach them about what to do if a line is crossed.
The final risk factor for a child to be abused is when their parents don’t talk to them about self protection. And this can’t be just a one time discussion. This must be ongoing.
He also mentioned how “helicopter” parents think their children are safe but we really can’t be there for them 24/7. So they need to learn how to protect themselves.
It is our job to do everything in our power to protect our children. Raising awareness of the risk factors could make all the difference.
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