This past week, the music world was rocked by the suicide of the lead singer of Linkin Park. While I didn't know him personally, he was a friend and neighbor to some of my close friends. I read an interview he did recently where he talked about the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Did this contribute to his final decision to end his life and stop the pain? I can't say for sure, but knowing so many survivors of sexual abuse, I can say it's a very likely possibility. That's why our most recent training really hit home for me.
We returned to the Pa Mai Dang school for the first time since our initial project launch in January, this time to teach about Internet Safety and Safe/Unsafe/Confusing Touch. In our Internet session, we discussed how pedophiles and traffickers are using things like Facebook to lure victims and then continuing the abuse by shaming victims into silence. In our session on appropriate touch, we took some time to have the students write down the names of people they knew they could trust to believe them if they ever were sexually abused. It's so important in this era to make sure to teach and reteach children about grooming, abuse and trafficking and make sure they know safe people to report to if they ever encounter a situation like that. Once a child discloses about abuse, it is imperative to give them the support and counseling they need to work through the varied emotions such an experience (or experiences) brings. You may think "it won't happen to my kid" or "it doesn't happen here," but just last week in my own small town in Washington State, over 20 pedophiles were arrested for a variety of sexual offenses against children.
Educate yourself and your children about abuse and trafficking. Prepare yourself and your children for how to respond if you encounter abuse or trafficking in your own family, neighborhood or city.
Here's further advice on how to respond if a child discloses abuse:http://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/what-should-i-do-after-a-child-tells
More information on grooming and trafficking through the internet: https://internetsafety101.org
[Images used with permission]