Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Heavy stuff

This morning I had to go to a Virtus training session. Virtus is a program of the Catholic Church intended to raise awareness and help prevent child sex abuse. This training is mandatory for any adult within the Catholic community who works with kids. Since I am a substitute teacher at the local Catholic high school, I was required to go (in addition to passing a background check). The session was very informative and I learned some good information that I think would be good to pass along to friends and family. All the information below comes from my participant booklet; I can get more information for anyone who is interested.
  • One out of every five adult women and one out every 10 adult men say they were molested as children
  • Only 11% of perpetrators are strangers to their victims; most are family members and friends
  • Fewer than 5% of children who report sexual abuse are lying
  • Things to look for in possible abusers:
    • always want to be alone with kids
    • would rather be with kids than adults
    • give (extravagant) gifts to children without the parent's consent
    • go overboard physically--tickle, wrestle, etc., an "unusual" amount
    • ignore the rules; don't think the rules "apply to them"; let kids get away with stuff parents wouldn't normally allow
    • say/show inappropriate things to kids (often to judge their reaction)
  • Make sure enough adults are involved in kids' programs
  • Listen and BELIEVE what your kids tell you
  • Be alert to the way your child says something (or nothing!). The way in which they say it can sometimes be more important than what they do (or don't) say.
  • Talk with your child about boundaries; you can treat this subject like you would any other safety rule
  • Teach your child the RIGHT words for their private parts. If your child (God forbid) becomes a victim and you are able to press charges, it is crucial that your child be able to give consistent, reliable testimony. Being able to call things by their proper name can make a child more credible, plus it will be more clear exactly what happened.
  • If you see something that makes you uncomfortable, confront the person. You don't have to have proof. Remember, this is the safety of your child you are concerned about.
    • How often have you heard someone say, "I had an uneasy feeling at the time, like something wasn't right." Adults must learn to pay attention to these feelings and communicate their concerns about situations that can put kids in danger. This can be difficult, but it's necessary.
Like I said, it's heavy stuff. But it's important to have it out in the open and raise awareness. We've got to make it less of a taboo to talk about, otherwise victims will remain silent and perpetrators will remain a threat.

1 comment:

Alice said...

thank you....this is a HUGE problem ...what sick people!