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Preventing Child to Child Sexual Trauma and Abuse

This lesson highlights the increased risk of child-to-child sexual abuse, explains how it can happen and what parents can do to prevent it, such as teaching body safety rules, restricting access to devices, and believing and seeking help if a child comes forward about sexual abuse.
March 14, 2023
Summary Notes

- An estimated 33% of childhood sexual abuse and trauma is a result of an older child to a younger child.

- This occurs because older children who have been sexually abused themselves process their trauma through play.

- The difference between normal play and sexual abuse is the power dynamic.

- To prevent child to child sexual trauma, parents should have an open door policy, teach body safety rules to all children, and restrict access to devices without tight parental controls.

- If a child comes forward about experiencing sexual abuse, always believe them, don't dismiss it, and seek help from a therapist.

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Let's talk about preventing child to child sexual trauma estimated that 33% of childhood sexual abuse and trauma happens as a result of an older child to a younger child. The reason this happens is that the older children have been sexually abused either by other older children or by adults in their lives, and children process their trauma through play.

So they are trying to understand what it is that happened to me by replaying that out with another. They don't have the full capacity to understand what they're doing, so they can't be fully responsible in the same way that an adult perpetrator is fully responsible for their behavior. But the impact to the other child is similar as if someone did know what they were doing.

And I wanna clarify, there's a difference between two children, curiously, exploring each other's bodies and sexual abuse or sexual. The difference between these two things is a dynamic with curious, normal, innocent play. Children are just wanting to look and see and understand. We still need to teach them the body safety rules, but there isn't an experience of trauma to one of the children because it isn't about a power dynamic.

When it is traumatic for kids is when it is a far older kid or developmentally more advanced. Or a child who has knowledge of sexual acts in a way that is overwhelming and scary to a child that has no knowledge of those things, what you can do as a parent to try to prevent this from happening to your child.

Open door policy play happens with doors open. You're helping to prevent the scenario where there is privacy and secrecy. Two, you teach body safety rules to every child that comes into your home and you talk about them in front of your child, the parents that you're leaving your child with, and other children that you're leaving your child.

Every single time body safety spiel looks like this. Okay, guys, Remember body safety rules. We don't hit, we don't kick, we don't punch, we don't bite. We use kind hands, and we always ask for permission to touch somebody else. And we never, ever, ever, ever touch or ask to look at or show any of the parts under our bathing suits because those parts are extra, extra sensitive and could get hurt really easily.

So there is never a situation where we say yes to that area of touch looking or engagement. And then three. No phones or tablets that don't have very tight parental controls. If this happens to your child and they come and tell you about it, number one, always believe them. Number two, don't dismiss it as not a big deal.

Justifying that the other person was a child, and number three, final therapist, get some help and support. These things are overwhelming and you do not have to navigate this by yourself.