As parents, knowing or suspecting that your child is being sexually abused can be incredibly traumatic. It can be difficult to know how to begin to do something about it. We understand that reporting your concerns is not easy, particularly when the abuser is someone that you know and trust. However, to protect your child, it is vital that you do speak out.
Child sexual abuse happens when a child or teenager is forced, or enticed, to take part in sexual activities. No matter the level of violence, and regardless of the child’s awareness or agreement to what’s happening, it is sexual abuse. It may involve physical contact such as touching a child’s genitals or private parts for the abuser’s sexual pleasure, making a child touch someone else’s genitals, playing sexual games or having sex by putting objects or body parts inside the mouth, anus or vagina of a child. Sexual abuse also includes things that don’t involve contact, such as showing a child pornography, encouraging a child to take part in the making of sexual images, watching sexual acts, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. Abuse can take place in person or online, through internet based technology or a website your child uses.
The importance of early education on sexual abuse in the home cannot be over-emphasized. It is important that you teach your children about sexual abuse because the strength of the predator is in the ignorance of the child.
Here, I have the privilege of discussing child sexual abuse with Mr. Steve Harris.
Steve Harris, fondly called “Mr. Ruthless Execution” is a trusted authority in the fields of Life & Business Strategy, a highly sought-after Management Consultant and Chief Executive Officer of EdgeEcution, Motivational Speaker & Author. In May and September 2015 as well as in April 2016, Steve Harris was listed among the ‘World’s Top 100 Business Coaches To Follow On Twitter’ He is also a certified member of the International Coach Federation (ICF), a member of the Life Coaches Association of Nigeria (LCAN), the American Association of Small Business Consultants, Texas, USA and the International Certified Consultants Association, Canada.
Thank you so much Sir, for lending your voice on this issue.
It’s my pleasure.
What comes to mind when you hear about child sexual abuse?
I think it’s terrible. No child deserves to be put in that kind of position. I think to some degree, there’s a bit of negligence. Some parents perhaps are not entirely hands-on; however, you can’t put all the blame on parents because sometimes as a result of our busy schedules parents today tend to leave their kids with their housekeepers. That is why it is important to educate kids, way before time, about what sexual abuse is. I have some amazing friends in the field, like Praise Fowowe who has written an amazing book on the topic, where he highlights how parents can easily teach their children and pre-teens everything about sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is terrible. Perpetrators should be arrested, they should be locked up, and as far as I’m concerned, the keys should be thrown away.
Were you taught about sexual abuse as a child, whether at home or in school?
No, I wasn’t taught about sexual abuse as a kid. My parents never had ‘the Birds and the Bees’ conversation with me-no one should touch here or there. It was pretty much because at the time my parents were very much hands-on, we didn’t have housekeepers because my mum was always present so nothing could happen. But today, it’s a lot harder because our environment is such that parents have less time to sit and watch their children grow up, so they outsource that.
Speaking of sex education, at what age do you think is ideal for sex education?
We started educating my daughter when she was 2 years old. We were very direct with the information that we believed she needed, we didn’t color anything. We told her what her vagina was, what her breasts were. No one should touch you here or there. I think the moment your child is intellectually aware and can ask some questions, then that is the right time… in our case it was from 2 years old. The earlier the better and it should constantly be reiterated through poetry, through games:
Que: “Can anyone touch you here”
Que: “If someone touches you here, what should you do?”
Ans: “Tell your mummy and daddy”
Que: “If someone touches you, what should you do?”
Que: “How should you scream?”
Que: “Scream louder!”
It should be reinforced as often as possible.
Since children can be sexually abused well before nursery school, and even a baby can be abused, do you think education and awareness for sexual abuse and sexual violence in general should be incorporated in couple’s counselling in church?
Yes. I think so, I don’t think it is one of the things churches manage during counselling. It’s not the sort of thing you’d expect, but we live in a crazy world with the proliferation of the internet; children are more susceptible to online predators, pedophilia, sexting, etc. I think the earlier the better, so it should be incorporated. Maybe to some degree, the reason they don’t talk about it is because they don’t really have a solution, but I do think it’s imperative.