I am sitting at my desk wondering what I want to write about today. So many things have happened this week. With the launch of my new book What Happens After #MeToo comes elation and responsibility.
We sold 60 copies in the first week of the launch for which I am so thankful.
Here are some of the reviews on the book:
“Abuse…it’s a hard topic and may seem difficult to talk about, but “What Happens After #MeToo”? will equip you with the knowledge on how to recognize abuse and how to protect your children against it. I now have a better understanding of what exploitation and manipulation really look like. And, how to guard the most precious gift that God has given to me, which is my children and grandchildren. Excellent book!” – Julie Aldrich, She Is Safe
“What Happens after #MeToo? is a must read for all parents. Dr. Laila gives the reader practical and helpful techniques to protect children, pick up on the signs of abuse and respond to reports of abuse. Her powerful message that those who are abused aren’t guilty supports both the abused and those that support them by providing them with the freedom and the courage to stand against abuse. I highly recommend this book!”– Marlyn Sayegh, Mother of four children
And yet, I am wondering how many parents have not come round to talking to their children about how to protect themselves against sexual abuse. Maybe, you are dreading the subject. Or maybe you don’t want to open the eyes of your kids on things they are too young to know.
Some parents think they do not know how to open the subject, or maybe you don’t want your children to be afraid of everyone they meet.
You might tell yourself, ‘this can never happen to my children.’ And yet statistics say that one in every six girls and one in every 53 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
Only 10% of cases are reported because of the guilt and shame the victim feels.
87% of predators are people the family and the child know: a family member, a family friend, a nanny, a teacher, a coach or a person who is renting your basement
Today, I want to tell you, forewarned is forearmed. Every school has fire drills. Will these drills cause your child to start a fire? No. It just makes them aware of the proper reaction if a fire ever happens.
Every school has an earthquake drill. Will this cause the children to forever be afraid?
No, the objective of those drills is for the children to react properly in case of an earthquake without thinking of what they need to do. The drills and what the kids learn through them become the go-to action plan in case of fire or earthquake.
Today, I want to go through a sexual abuse drill with you as a parent or a caregiver.
I explain this in detail in my book What Happens After #MeToo.
- Private means privateRemind the child that nobody is allowed to touch their bodies in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, not even their close or very distant family members or friends. No one should touch or see their private parts. No one should ask the child to touch or see someone else’s private parts
- Beware of curiosity
In many cases child-to-child abuse happens because of curiosity. If our children know their own sexuality they do not need to investigate. Tell them the names of their private parts. Don’t use nicknames. Speak to them about their sexual identity as a boy or as a girl and how God has created them as unique and special beings.
Let kids avoid playing ‘doctor’ as they might remove their clothes. Always watch your kids as they play
- Tell the child to scream as loud as he/she can
Children naturally scream if someone, for example, pinches them, therefore we only need to teach them to react immediately before they can be lied to.
Tell them how important it is that they should stamp a foot or wave their arms and scream, “NO” as loud as they can. Ask for suggestions about how to show a physical reaction when touched in a way that hurts or make them feel uncomfortable. When they show you, you are actually training them that this will be their go-to reaction.
Predators are cowards. They want to keep their secret. If a child screams and makes a violent reaction such as stomping their feet, the predator will realize that this child is well informed and will not try molesting the child again.
- Reassure the child that he/she must report
Tell the child to report even if they are not sure. Tell the child that he/she will not get in trouble if they report. It might turn out to be a false alarm, but it will build their confidence and might even scare a perpetrator enough not to try again.
It is good for a child to have more than one person to report to. Decide together who the other trustworthy person is and inform that person.
- Assure the child that mother will always believe the child
Molesters lie and threaten children with the most horrific things: e.g. “Your mother will beat you; nobody will believe you; it is your fault because you like it; all other children are doing it; I am the only one who loves you.”
If the molester is the father or stepfather the responsibility is placed upon the child: e.g. “Who is going to provide for your mother and the other children? Or, “I will kill your mother.” In a house where violence is already common, such a threat constantly puts a child in a state of fear and the child will take the responsibility very seriously. It is of the utmost importance that a child should have a trustworthy foundation that no matter what the lie, it would not stop them from reporting the perpetrator.
Tell the child the lies that the perpetrator might tell.
As a pediatrician, I believe that prevention is better than cure.
At Not Guilty we use the PADS model
Prevention: through teaching kids the SKIT model: say no, keep private parts private, it is not your fault, tell someone.
Awareness: raising awareness of parents about sexual abuse and teaching them how to protect their kids.
Detection: raising awareness of teachers and training them on detecting and dealing with sexual abuse
Strategy: Helping schools put strategies for reporting sexual abuse in their schools.
Counseling for sexual abuse survivors.
If you have questions, contact us.
If you have not bought your copy of my book What Happens After #MeToo. I encourage you to buy two today: one for you and one for a friend.
Let us, together, abolish sexual abuse in children.