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How To Protect Your Child Against Sexual Abuse!



How To Protect Your Child Against Sexual Abuse!

A mother calls in a hysterical state of panic asking for an urgent appointment or sends me a message that her child was sexually abused. I meet with her as soon as possible, to discover that the case is either: 1. The child is sexually exploring himself/herself or 2. Another child tried to see or touch their private parts.

The previous scenario has been repeated many times in the past few years, and after several sessions, I usually come to the conclusion that it’s because parents, out of fear, have been trying to raise their child’s awareness concerning this issue, but unfortunately this is done in an inappropriate and unprofessional way which actually backfires causing the child to be extra interested and wanting to further explore himself as well as others.

So, if a child in kindergarten, takes his classmate to the bathroom saying, “ show me your wiwi and I will show you mine!” This does NOT indicate any sexual deviation of any kind but could indicate a faulty awareness technique. But in all cases, the situation has to be investigated with both children, in a calm, non-exposing and professional manner, to exclude the possibility of one of them actually being  sexually abused.

So let me summarize to you as parents some guidelines to appropriately protect your child from sexual abuse:

1. Avoiding some of our family habits at home:

– Avoid kissing your child on the mouth

– Avoid tickling your child over 3 years, especially near private areas, nor stand between their legs

– Never force affection nor blame your child for not giving any

– A child above 3 years should not sit on the lap of friends and family

– Never leave your child alone with the nanny or the driver, and if you have to in case of emergency, have an online hidden camera installed.

–  Avoid having the nanny bathe, or put your child to sleep (I have discovered during therapy that there are foreign nannies who stimulate the child sexually to relax them enough to sleep!!!)


2. 93% of sexual molestation and abuse comes from a known family member or family acquaintance and is very rarely from strangers who are unknown to the child.

– Always keep your child under supervision at least until the age of 5 or 6  years, then sustain an open communication channel to ensure you catch the abuser during the grooming process and not too late.

– Grooming process: the abuser tests the child for a period of time before the actual abuse, so he starts befriending the child, brings presents and may test the child’s ability to keep a secret. Therefore, if you talk daily with your child, you will definitely detect this and be able to protect your child.


3. Appropriately and professionally increase your child’s awareness of his private parts and how to sustain his self hygiene in the bathroom:

– This has to be done under precise advice from a qualified professional because as I mentioned earlier, faulty awareness could be a major reason for increased sexual responsiveness.

– A good guideline for parents of preschoolers is the story “Amazing me”.

– When telling the story refrain from extreme facial reactions towards private parts. Indicate “this is our private part” exactly as you indicate “this is our arm or leg” but the difference is that you indicate – again CALMLY AND WITHOUT OVER EXPRESSIONS – that private areas are PRIVATE…

Focus on safe behavior and skills instead of scaring children about the risks.


4. The MOST IMPORTANT protection technique is to raise a well-rounded confident child, so learn how to deal with your child in a psychologically appropriate way.

– Abusers usually choose the weak, hesitant children or those who are intimidated by authority. So if your child is scared of you, he can very easily be scared of anyone else.


5. Enroll your child in a professional educational program but please make sure it’s PROFESSIONAL. Here are some qualities to identify a good program:

– Age appropriate without any scaring factor

– Focuses on empowering the child

– Includes active participation and role play and behavioral practice techniques

– Any books or videos have to be revised by a professional to ensure their appropriateness.


6. Differentiate between sexual responsiveness and sexual abuse:

It is totally unfair for a school to accuse an 8 year old of being a sexual abuser because of an exposure act with a classmate. Both children should go to a psychologist to determine what each of them is exposed to and what kind of therapy each needs.


7. Early and instant therapy is very effective:

In case of sexual abuse or doubt of abuse, take the child instantly to therapy. I recommend Play Therapy, which results in complete and absolute healing with no future consequences.


To Summarize:

– If you raise a confident child, the child will be safe

– If you always supervise your child under 6 years, the child will be safe

– If you choose a professional psychology based preschool and school, the child will be safe

– If you have good communication with your child, the child will be safe

– If you increase your child’s awareness appropriately, the child will be safe

– If your child is exposed to an incident, go to therapy immediately and the child will be fine.


Lastly, I’m hoping that all parents are careful and proactive enough to be able to protect their precious little souls.

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Dr. Mona Youssri

Dr. Mona Youssri is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, family counselor and certified trainer accredited by Oxford Press. She has a Masters of Arts in International counseling from the American University in Cairo, is an affiliated International member of the American Psychological Association and a life time member of the International Honor Society in Psychology (PSI CHI). She is founder and owner of The Creative Learning Center, an early literacy based preschool with a unique child psychology based curriculum.

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