Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee a child’s safety from sexual abuse. There is no magic formula and everyone is at risk of experiencing sexual violence. These are difficult facts to accept but nonetheless a reality. Luckily parents/caregivers aren’t completely powerless either.
In recent years, research has come to light around resiliency, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and protective factors. Although these are “buzz phrases” used frequently by professionals in the field, they do hold meaning for those involved in the life of a child. In simple terms, protective factors are influences research shows have the ability to protect children from abuse. Some protection comes from a child’s environment, others from within.
- Is confident and has a positive body image.
- Knows they are loved, supported and listened to.
- Is able to express a full range of emotions (happiness, anger, fear, confusion).
- Understands, protects and respects boundaries.
- Has a close, secure relationship with at least one adult.
- Has a variety of interests and participates in community events.
- Practices open communication about all topics, including sex.
- Has a strong support network (extended family/friends).
- Provides close supervision of all children.
- Spends quality time together sharing fun activities.
- Is a safe, consistent environment where promises are kept.
- Is committed to the safe use of technology.
- Actively spend time trying to understand and connect with my child(ren).
- Work to learn more about parenting and child development.
- Practice stress reduction techniques like exercise, relaxation and mindfulness.
- Know about resources in the community to help in times of need.
Going Deeper – More info about these topics:
ACE’s Too High – news and the latest info on ACEs
Parenting Tip Sheets Around Protective Factors:
Parenting Tips – from Toddlers to Teens (Knowledge of Parenting)