April Is Child Abuse Awareness Month

April 6, 2020

SCARS is reminding the public that April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month, saying that “child sexual abuse can thrive in isolation, and we must take precautions during this time to reduce risk.”

A spokesperson said, “With April being National Child Abuse Awareness Month, more than ever it’s important to keep this topic of prevention at the forefront of our minds.

“The impact of COVID-19 is being felt across the island and with Bermuda declaring a state of emergency as of April 4th in the form of a mandatory 14 day lockdown, we must not forget that research indicates that child sexual abuse can thrive in isolation, and we must take precautions during this time to reduce risk.

“Child sexual abuse is preventable, and we encourage our families to be aware of the following:

“1. Establish online safety rules. Child sex offenders are just one-click away from some of our most popular sites and apps. Cybertips.bm provides great information and helpful resources on how to keep your child safe from online predators. According to an article in Sky News, thousands of pedophiles are preying on children online during lockdown.

“Also, there are serious detrimental effects on pornography on children. Continue communicating to children that everything they do online is public and permanent. Parents please ensure that your children are safe online.

2. We encourage parents and caregivers to keep lines of communication open and send children a clear message that they can share with you their fears, and concerns about others, without judgement, anger or retribution. They should be allowed and encouraged to tell you anything about anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable. Child sexual abuse thrives in an environment of fear.

“3. Continue open conversations about body safety and boundaries. Establish safety rules about privacy – like one person in a bathroom at a time. Also, discuss boundaries; just as we share about hand washing, please ask children to keep their hands to themselves.

“Sometimes children cross boundaries with another child and this may be simply exploring. But If children are never taught what is okay and acceptable and what is not okay, then they simply may not know when their behavior has crossed the line.

“Parents please let your child know that they don’t show or touch their private parts to other children or adults, unless there is a medical reason and you are present. They also don’t ask others to show them or touch them in their private parts.

“Keep those lines of communication open always, watch for behaviors and listen to your children.

“For more resources and information, please visit the SCARS website.”

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