Parents feel sad and horrified when they hear of the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child or young teen. We are concerned that we do everything possible to protect our children from such abuse – but what specific actions can we take? How can we help our children and adolescents recognize individuals who might seek sexual favors or who might coerce them into unwanted sexual activities?
One of the greatest risk factors for adolescents is to date an older individual, and the risk for coercive sexual relationships is even greater when the adolescent is younger (12 – 14 years of age). Young adolescents who watch more television are more likely to participate in early sexual activity. (Manlove J, Moore K, et al. “Sex Between Young Teens and Older Individuals: A Demographic Portrait” Child Trends Research Brief. September 2005 at www.childtrends.org.)
A protective factor is a strong and stable family. Children and teens that experience secure, loving relationship at home are less likely to be coerced or exploited by others. Don’t be afraid of tough topics – be willing to talk and listen and admit when you don’t know the answers. Convey your values and teach your child to respect herself and others for character traits rather than physical appearance.
Children and teen are often at risk during unsupervised time after school. Please think of ways to assure your child’s safety during this time.
For additional information, see the book So Sexy So Soon: the new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids by Diane E. Levin, Ph.D. and Jean Kilbourne Ed.D.Jane Anderson, MD Excerpted from the Prescriptions for Parents Newsletter found at this link: Media and Sexual Exploitation