As an Early Childhood Educator and one who genuinely loves children, just the mere thought of an innocent but yet vulnerable child becoming the target of an older individual’s sexual sick and perverse fantasies is enough to make my stomach turn. As I began conversing with Educators on the topic of Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, I kept hearing a similar but yet alarmingly shocking response that sounded along the lines of this “It’s the parent’s job to do that.” My heart sank deeper than the ocean as I immediately began to think about those children in the foster care system who don’t even have parents. Whose job is it to reach those in the system that are silently being violated behind closed doors?
Foster children are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children who live with both biological parents. So if it’s entirely the parent’s job to educate the child on prevention these children are forgotten in the process, in a system where they are already forgotten. Or what about those children who are growing up in single parent homes with a live in partner? These children are at the highest risk because they are 20 times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than those who are living with both biological Parents. Or worst what about Parents who were never properly equipped and trained on Child Abuse Prevention so it isn’t quite on their to do list? It is not only the sole responsibility of parents to educate their children on Child Abuse Prevention it is the Educator’s job as well. We have depended upon the the parents solely alone for decades which is the ultimate reason for the statistics being so high.
As Educators it is our job to serve as a support system to the families of the children that are entrusted in our care, that involves academically as well as the child’s social, emotional and mental development which can be interrupted if a child is being sexually abused especially if it’s ongoing for an extended period of time. Consider the words of a child who was being sexually abused by her father. “ I am broken, I was only a girl hiding under my sheets you took away all my innocence left me dead inside.” Sadly the long term effects of the abuse led to the teen committing suicide at just 17 years old.How can we call ourselves educators when we educate on everything except Child Sexual Abuse prevention? The one topic that is rarely being talked about in the classrooms but yet it affects so many children.