Welcome to Green Bear!
This page was created to assist parents in educating their children regarding child sexual abuse. We will assist parents in defining sexual abuse (in a developmentally appropriate manner) to their children, discuss how to respond to a child disclosing abuse and deterrents (prevention efforts to be utilized to prevent abuse from occurring) to abuse.
The Green Bear Project has many classes available to educate the children, parents and the community on sexual abuse prevention. For more information click on Our Programs
Defining Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any sexual activity about power and control. Sexual abuse can occur with an older, more knowledgeable child or an adult. Sexual abuse may be physical, verbal, digital or emotional.
Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, bribing, threatening, or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or activity. Sexual abuse occurs when an older or more knowledgeable child or an adult uses a child in a sexual manner. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time.
Statistics Regarding Sexual Abuse
- Every nine minutes, Child Protective Services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.
- 82% of all victims under age 18 are female.
- On average, 1 in 9 girls and in 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult.
- 88% of perpetrators are male, 9% are female, 3% are unknown.
- Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, 310 are reported to police.
- In Missouri in the last five years, 6.83% of victims were aged 0-5 years, 39.33% were 5-11, and 53.8% were 12-17 years of age.
Children’s Safety (Deterrents/Prevention)
The safety of children should be everyone’s priority. Below are general guidelines parents should observe to decrease the incidence of child sexual abuse:
- Healthy Relationships – If you are a single parent, do not enter into a relationship where your significant other degrades, embarrasses or insults you. If your child witnesses this behavior, they will perceive it as normal and may enter a similar relationship. Trust your instincts – some perpetrators target single parents to have easy access to their children.
- Be an Advocate – If you witness suspected abuse, report it. If your child sees you behaving in a proactive way regarding suspected abuse, they will feel more comfortable in disclosing potential abuse situations to you. Volunteer for an organization supporting children and advocating against abuse. Take your child with you to meetings and fundraisers (when appropriate) to show support for these agencies.
- Be Proactive – Discuss appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviors frequently, openly and honestly.
- Build Self Esteem in Children – Children with high self esteem are less likely to be sexually abused and are more likely to disclose if they are abused. Follow these simple strategies to help build positive self esteem in your children:
- Be generous with praise – praise children for jobs well done and for effort.
- Teach positive self-statements – Redirect children’s negative beliefs about themselves and teach them how to think positively.
- Avoid criticism taking the form of ridicule or shame.
- Show children you can laugh at yourself – your sense of humor is important for their well-being.
- Create a safe, nurturing, home environment – A child who does not feel safe at home will be less likely to disclose abuse.
- Encourage extracurricular activities.
- Ensure appropriate caregivers for your children – You should know who your child spends time with alone, whether it is a day care provider, coach, leader of an extracurricular activity, or church leader. Some guidelines to ensure appropriate caregivers include:
- Encourage any organization in which your child belongs to develop a policy to perform background checks on all employees and volunteers who will spend time with your child.
- When performing interviews on potential caregivers/day cares, inquire if there have been previous allegations of abuse. Although this question may be difficult to ask, an informed and responsible provider will understand.
- Ask any organizational leader or day care if anyone else may have access to your child. Inform the agency you are well-versed in issues regarding child abuse and are vigilant regarding your child’s safety.
- Continue protecting your child by making unscheduled visits and discuss with your child frequently about any concerns regarding their day care providers or organizational activities in which they are involved.
- Educate- Teach children what sexual abuse entails. Inform children, “Your body is your own. No one should kiss, touch, or lick you in the part of your body your swimsuit covers in the summertime.” Children should also be instructed if they receive a hug, kiss or touch anywhere on their body they do not like, they can tell that person, “NO!”, then tell a grownup. Click on the Professional and Kids Pages for activities you can complete with your child regarding sexual abuse prevention education.
For more information on sexual abuse prevention (deterrents) click on the following Green Bear Guidelines:
Child Sexual Abuse Perpetrators
Perpetrators are not easily recognizable – not all perpetrators are alike. Many have good social skills and are known and trusted in their communities. Most perpetrators are known to the victim (93%) as acquaintances (59%) and family members (34%)
Children can sexually abuse other children. According to Darkness to Light, it is estimated 40% of children who are sexual abused are abused by other children. Most serial child molesters start sexually abusing children during their adolescence.
Perpetrator Red Flags
- Full Body Hugs- Discuss with your child hugs, kisses or touches that are appropriate . . . and those that are inappropriate. In many cases, a high-five should be enough.
- Rides Home- Question frequent rides home alone from practices, meetings, or one-on-one situations with adults. Your child should only accept rides home from pre-approved adults.
- Frequent Contact- Long or repeated phone calls, texts or instant messages from an adult should be questioned. An adult is not a child’s peer. Parents should be wary of one who acts that way.
- Special Gifts- Cards, gifts and special awards targeting one particular child should be questioned. Bribery is many times used as a grooming tool in sexual abuse to prevent disclosure.
- Sleepovers- Even if many children attend, at least 2 adults should be present to supervise. When your child returns home from a sleepover ask them who was there, what you did, and did anything scare/frighten you.
- Babysitting- Perpetrators may use an opportunity to ask to babysit for your child, using the occasion to develop closeness as a cover for sexual abuse.
- Losing Interest- Question your child if they suddenly lose interest or want to quit a favorite activity. Ask your child if something happened or if someone did or said something frightening. Often victims of sexual abuse will make up reasons as to why they no longer want to attend activities.
- Professional Movement- Professionals who frequently move from place to place may be sexual abuse perpetrators. Parents should ask for references, talk with other children in your child’s activities, and discuss with other parents or officials any concerns.
- Secret Keeping- Children should not keep secrets from parents. If another adult is asking your child to keep secrets from you – this should be a huge red flag.
For more information regarding perpetrators, click on to the following Green Bear Guidelines:
Any child can be victimized online – if does not matter if the child is a straight “A” student, is considered well adjusted or has many friends. Every child has an emotional vulnerability that can be exploited if it is accessed by a perpetrator with the skills and motivations to manipulate.
Perpetrators like the internet because they have instant access to other perpetrators world-wide as well as providing a means of instantly accessing child victims both in their communities and around the world.
Online abuse has become more than someone targeting your child on a computer. Children can be victimized on cell phones, gaming devices, tablets and any other device with an online connection.
Online Grooming – Internet predators tend to be very friendly and even charming, claiming to understand victims and sympathize with any issues they may be facing. Grooming a child lulls them into a false sense of security. It is important to constantly communicate with your children about their online use and understand the methods a perpetrator may utilize to lure victims.
Netsmartz, sponsored by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has an informational website with videos, power point programs, handouts and cartoons discussing different approaches parents can take to educate their children online. Resources (missingkids.org)
For more online safety information, click on the following Green Bear Guidelines:
How to Respond to a Child Disclosing Abuse
If a child discloses abuse, they are trusting you with a life-altering secret. Only about 30% of children who have been sexually abused disclose the abuse to someone who can help them. If a child tells you they have been sexually abused, always remember, I CARE!
|I||INFORMATION. Secure only basic information asking only basic questions. Do not question a child in detail about abuse. Basic questions include what happened, who did this and when did this happen. To report abuse, you only have to suspect it.|
|C||CALM DEMEANOR. Always remember, you are not angry at the child, but at what happened to them. Children can mistakenly interpret anger or disgust as directed toward them. Give positive messages such as, “Thank you for telling.” Inform the child they should not be ashamed of what happened.|
|A||ASSURE THE CHILD. Sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault. Assure the child what happened was not their fault. Children cannot prevent abuse, only the abuser can. Most disclosures are not made immediately after the abuse occurs – do not blame a child for waiting to disclose abuse.|
|R||REPORT SUSPECTED ABUSE. Perpetrators have more than one victim. Report suspected abuse to Missouri’s Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.392.3738. In cases of suspected sexual abuse or severe physical trauma, the local police should be notified of your suspicions.|
|E||ENCOURAGE COUNSELING. Counseling is a vital step for a child who has been abused. Non-offending family members should also receive counseling. If you have questions regarding counseling or would like an appointment/referral, contact Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence at 573.332.1900 for instructions.|
For more information, click on the following Green Bear Guidelines:
Green Bear Programs
The Green Bear Project has many programs available at no cost to our community. For more information, click on Our Programs.
Also attached, are the brochures we utilize to educate parents after their children have attended our programs:
The Green Bear Project is sponsored by Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence and private donations. For more information, click on their website: