Protecting our children isn’t always easy, but it is necessary.
Alex, a mum and a ChildSafe Champion, writes: “I was sexually abused as a child for many years and I don’t want the same thing that happened to me happen to my children or anyone else’s children.”
This is a confronting statement as we enter National Child Protection Week for another year. It’s a week where our attention turns to children like my son, innocent and vulnerable but with a world to conquer. It is our time to think about how we protect our children and how far we would go to protect our children and all children. As a nation, is it just making laws, and requirements? Or is there something that we, as parents, can do to take some responsibility into our own hands?
I remember when my son was born, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. My wife did so well; honestly she was incredible! My baby boy is now 13 years old and only two years ago we found out that he has a Mild Intellectual Disability. On first hearing this news we were both upset and relieved. Upset because we know that life for him will not come as easy as it did for us and relieved because we had suspected there was something that was going on with him for a few years now. When he came into this world I wasn’t expecting what we would find out 11 years later but – the thing about being a parent is, no matter what you find out, the love for our children should never change. Our heart to protect them should never change. This is how it was for us. Yes, we have had to adapt and change ourselves at times to help him thrive better and we will continue to protect him, especially in the realisation of his greater risk as a vulnerable person.
In Australia, 1 in 5 children are sexually abused before they reach 18 years of age. As a parent, I am sure this breaks your heart as it does mine, not only because they are heart wrenching statistics but because you also realise that this is only one form of abuse. Imagine the statistics if we added emotional abuse, bullying, spiritual abuse, physical abuse etc. The truth is, Australia has really not done too well for our children. But just because that is the history it doesn’t mean that has to be their future.
At ChildSafe we believe that parents have a lot of power to protect their children – so here are three ways you can do that:
- Ask organisations how they are going to protect your children when you leave your children in their care. They should have strategies, systems and policies in place. Don’t just take – ‘we are working on this’ – as a statement you are at peace with. Ask questions, push a little harder; it’s your child you are protecting after all.
- Ask a few trusted friends to spend time with your children so they hear another voice. Then, if something does occur, they have another person to turn to, not just you.
- Talk with your children about everything. Make time to listen and take everything they say seriously, even if in your mind you are thinking how ridiculous it sounds. Unfortunately only 1 in 3 adults believes a child if they disclose they have been abused. Be the one who believes because research says 97% of children are telling the truth.
Child abuse is real and it happens all over our nation and whilst you can’t be everywhere with your child, you can still do everything you can to protect them. These three ways will help. Let’s start now during this National Child Protection Week by putting these three strategies in place and changing the future for our children.
General Manager, Childsafe
National Child Protection Week is 1-7 September 2019.
Our guest blog this week is from ChildSafe, a Partner Organisation with MOPS Australia. Childsafe is a not-for-profit harm prevention charity working with organisations to prevent harm and abuse of children. ChildSafe enables trusted environments for the children in an organisation’s care.