Parents and other caregivers need to receive, at a minimum, the same level of prevention education as their child/youth. Parents can be strong representatives and advocates in promoting the safety of their child/youth during participation in educational, sport, cultural, religious/faith, or recreational activities. Because parents and caregivers bring their own experiences and cultural contexts to this issue, you’ll need to be thoughtful in both presenting accessible information and in facilitating discussions.
Keep issues of food, transportation, and childcare in mind when engaging parents/caregivers in education about child sexual abuse. For example, when hosting meetings or workshops with parents on a workday evening, childcare and dinner for parents and their children could be considered, as well as transportation for those parents and children who might not be able to access the prevention education otherwise.
Your education for parents and caregivers should incorporate both education specific to child sexual abuse, and education about your organization’s child sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures. Here are some elements that should be included in your training program for this audience:
- Review child sexual abuse information.
- Discuss child sexual abuse and parents’/caregivers’ role in preventing it.
- Define child sexual abuse, including grooming and the continuum of appropriate, inappropriate, and harmful behaviors.
- Challenge commonly held myths about child sexual abuse, such as the myth that most offenders are strangers and easily identifiable.
- Describe warning signs to watch for concerning sexually offending behaviors and victimization.
- Discuss how parents/caregivers should talk to their children, in developmentally appropriate ways, about sexuality and child sexual abuse. Emphasize the use of natural teaching moments during family time, meals, playtime, etc.
- Discuss how to talk to other adults about child sexual abuse and behaviors that violate boundaries and privacy.
- Explain caregivers’ responsibility to act if they witness or hear about inappropriate or harmful behaviors.
- Identify the person in your organization to whom parents can go for help or questions.
- Identify prevention, treatment, and reporting resources outside your organization.
- Explain the elements of healthy sexual development and play—what is appropriate, and when.
Caregivers should be informed about your child sexual abuse prevention policies and procedures so they know what your organization expects of them—and what they can expect from your organization and your employees/volunteers.
- Describe your mission and codes of ethics/conduct.
- Define what activities are appropriate and inappropriate in your organization, such as when you sponsor overnight trips, mentoring, or one-on-one coaching.
- Delineate responsibilities of the caregiver and your organization. For example, define who is responsible for transporting youth.
- Encourage caregivers to attend sessions and programs whenever they can, to make sure youth are protected, and policies are followed.
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