So what can you do within your home to protect your children?
- ensure that adults in the family have healthy ways of relieving stress: exercise, relaxation, hobbies, nurturing relationships rather than excess alcohol and watching violent and/or pornographic movies;
- encourage children that there is nothing so bad that it can't be talked about, and the only secrets that need to be kept are fun ones(eg about birthday surprises), not those that worry children and parents need to keep lines of communication open;
- teach children that their bodies are their own private space and that they should say 'NO, Don't do that!' if anyone touches them in a way that they don't like;
- encourage children to be aware of their own network of adults they can trust to talk about things that are worrying them;
- encourage your children to be assertive and resilient young people in all the ways we have discussed in previous posts.
If the child or young person reveals that abuse has been going occurring, what are you going to do?
- Don't panic, and don't dismiss what the child says.
- Thank and reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you, that you will take the steps necessary to protect them and that the abuse was not their fault.
- If the abuse is of a sexual nature, and the person the child names lives in the same house as the child, you need to ensure that there is no way the child has contact until you notify either the Department of Human Services or the police.
- Seek professional advice from the Department of Human Services, or contact one of the many family support and counselling agencies.
Victoria Police: Telephone 000 for cases of immediate life threatening risk to children
Department of Human Services: Office Hours: Ring appropriate regional office.
After hours and weekend: 13 12 78
Family support agencies
Australian Childhood Foundation