Day 3: Abuse & Neglect/Sex Abuse

It is becoming more and more difficult for me to write these posts. I'm not sure if its the subject matter, or if I just don't know how to best put it into words. Our instructor is so eloquent. I'm pathetic in comparison. But I do my best in relaying the basic information to best inform my readers. 

One of the more difficult topics when preparing to become foster parents is abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of our four hours in class were spent talking about sexual abuse, however, information and training is key when you become the foster parent of a child that has been affected by this horrific event. Speaking of...has anyone read the Elizabeth Smart book? I hear it is a difficult read because of the subject matter but inspiring all the same and I wonder if her insight would better help me in my knowledge.

Here is an interesting fact for you. 18 percent of sex offenders were molested as children, which can be a small or large number depending on your perspective. But what is more interesting is people that come from violent homes are more likely to become pedophiles. All forms of sexual abuse involve some form of power and control. Even the smallest form of any type of abuse can completely alter the life and behavior and development in a child. 

So as the primary caregivers, what is our role in protecting children? 

Talk to them. The more open you are with them, the more open they will be with you. If someone makes them feel uncomfortable, then the child needs to know that they don't have to be around them. 

Let the kids decide who they want to show affection to. If they don't want to sit on Santa's lap, don't make them. If they don't want to give Grandma a hug, they shouldn't have to. We never want to make kids feel guilty for not wanting to show affection, because it teaches them that they must succumb to all forms of affection, even if it may be inappropriate. 

Teach kids the anatomically correct words of body parts. It will help in the event of identifying if a child has ever been sexually abused. Also, it will teach the kids that as a parent, you aren't embarrassed to talk about these kinds of things and that they can come to with anything. 

Occasionally ask the kids if they have anything that they need to talk about or if there is anything they are uncomfortable about. Remind the kids that if anyone has made a threat to keep the child quiet, we have more power and the law has more power. 

Tell your kids that you will believe them. And that you will stop it from happening. 

Remember that sexual abuse does not ruin the life of the child. It can be overcome. {Another reason I must read Elizabeth Smart's book.}

As foster parents, with the possibility of bringing children into our home that have been sexually abused and/or abused, we must be able to:

Discuss sex, sexuality and sexual abuse with relative comfort.

Be patient, as children need time to develop trust. 

Be flexible. Different children need different things at different times.

Must realize that bringing a child into our home will change it. 

Must be willing and able to provide high levels of supervision.

Must be open to seeking and using help from external sources. 

We may be asked to work with the child's family and must be able to do so with respect and empathy. Increasing contact with biological parents decreases the emotional impact on the child. {There are very rare instances of children hating their biological parents.} The more often the children see their parents, the less traumatic it will be each time they say goodbye.

One more class!

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