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Keeping children safe

Published in Media Releases Author: CentraCare

Did you know... 

  • Stearns County Human Services received 2,021 reports of child maltreatment in 2017?
  • In the same year, Benton County received 775 reports of child maltreatment.
  • 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by age 18.
  • There are more than 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States.
  • 90 percent of alleged child abuse offenders is someone that the child knows.

What can a parent do to protect their child from sexual abuse?

  • Be open and have conversations with your child; don’t make assumptions about what they know and don’t know.
  • Teach children about privacy and boundaries and have safety rules for your home.
  • Talk to your children about touches:
    • Utilize the terms “safe” and “unsafe” touch instead of “good” and “bad” touch. A touch can feel physically good to a child even though it is unsafe.
    • Unsafe touches can be explained as touches that either hurt their body or their heart. Touches on body parts that are covered by a swimsuit that are not to keep a child clean or healthy are also unsafe touches.
    • Touches should never be a secret.
  • Know who your child is spending time with.
    • Talk to caregivers of your children about who is around them when they are caring for your child (e.g. at sleepovers, etc.).
    • Recognize and understand signs of grooming. (Adults creating situations to get the child alone, spending extra time with the child or treating he or she differently than other children, providing access to valuable items/privileges or activities typically unavailable to child.)
  • Internet safety: Teach your children about the dangers of talking with people they don’t know and sharing personal information over the internet/phone apps. Monitor your child’s use of electronics and the internet. Establish limits for how much time they can spend and what sites they can visit on electronics.

What to do if a child is abused or neglected:

  • When talking to a child that has disclosed abuse, it is best to follow up with them individually, away from other children and caregivers.
  • Only collect the minimal facts needed to make a mandated report. Asking for more information than this can negatively impact a child abuse investigation and/or risk the child’s safety.
  • It is best NOT to inform the child’s caregiver(s) and/or alleged offender. This can be completed by law enforcement and/or Child Protection after their initial safety has been assessed.

The “Blue Kids”
In 2010, the Blue Kids Campaign started as a program for April’s Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Community groups, businesses and individuals take a “Stand for Kids” by placing the Blue Kids signs around Minnesota each April. Look out for the Blue Kids in our community.

The information is courtesy of the Central Minnesota Child Advocacy Center (CMCAC). The CMCAC works with a multidisciplinary team to serve children and their non-offending caregivers when there is an active investigation of child abuse. Visit the Child Advocacy Center webpage for additional resources for parents, mandated reporters, etc.