How to protect your child from life’s dangers.
By Tim Thompson
Many of the world’s ills could be prevented if children were raised in an environment of self-control. Teaching children self-control can prevent sexual abuse. Children should be taught to control everything affecting their minds and bodies. Sexual abuse occurs in many forms, and all leave a child’s mind scarred for life. Children should be taught what sexual abuse is and about their right to privacy.
As defined by the American Medical Association (ama), “Child sexual abuse is any sexual act or sexual contact with a child performed by an adult or an older child. It also includes showing an adult’s genitalia to a child, showing the child pornographic pictures or videotapes, or using the child as a model for pornographic purposes” (www.ama-assn.org).
To prevent child sexual abuse, children should be taught that no one has the right to touch them inappropriately or make them feel uncomfortable. They should be taught that, under those circumstances, they should say “no” to adults or older children. They should know that anyone has the potential to abuse them, not just strangers, but even family members and people they know.
The ama says, “Children should be taught not to keep secrets and should report any touching or behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable to their parents or an adult guardian. Listen when your child tries to tell you something, especially when it is difficult for them to talk about it. Know who your child is spending time with and ask the child about his or her visits with that person; this includes caregivers, such as babysitters.”
Recent studies show that 83 percent of American teens age 13 to 17 are “online” on the Internet, spending an average of 10½ hours online each week. The Web now holds over 1 billion pages, many of which are filled with sex, hatred and violence. “Chat rooms” are interactive message centers where sexual predators can easily masquerade as young people and lie in wait for naïve children. Your child should be taught never to reveal personal information to anyone online without your permission.
In self-control training, children must be taught to willingly cooperate with their parents and obey their instructions. Otherwise, children will learn patterns of deception which will prevent their parents from protecting them.
Part of teaching self-control is teaching children to take responsibility for their own actions. When wrong actions occur, the child should be told of his or her infraction of the rules in a calm manner and without anger. Proper punishment should then be meted out to fit the offense. The relationship between offense and punishment should always reinforce the principal of taking responsibility for their own actions. Consistent reinforcement by the parents will begin to develop the habit of self-control in the child, and the rewards and benefits of peace, happiness and harmony with family and friends will result.
Teaching self-control prevents violence. Self-control teaches proper problem resolution. Life, after all, is primarily a journey through problem solving. Children who are taught to control themselves when problems arise are able to work better with the people and circumstances involved to bring about a good solution. Without self-control, frustration mounts, tempers flare, and the problem worsens. Self-control teaches children that anger and violence are not solutions to their problems.