We all know about the horrific stories of sexual abuse involving the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, and other non-profit groups and churches. This article reminds us that the dangers of abuse are also at summer camps and youth outings. Patrick Boyle the author and a friend of mine writes about the “acquaintance molester”-someone because of his title or position of authority is assumed by parents and kids alike to be safe. If this isn’t enough to cause parental anxiety, Patrick makes a salient point in noting that just because a volunteer or camp employee has passed a background check doesn’t necessarily mean he/she is not a danger to children.
So, what should a parent do? Here are some tips that may lessen the chance that your child becomes a victim of sexual abuse: 1)visit the camp yourself and talk to the counselors and staff, 2)make sure you speak with your child about inappropriate behavior including inappropriate touching or speech. Any enticement to use alcohol or drugs must be a clear warning sign that there’s a huge problem. Communicate this to your children. 3)have your child attend the camp with their friends whom you know (a buddy system may lessen the chances an abuser singles out your child). 4)make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about anything at any time.
Childhood sexual abuse is a sad reality today. It was a sad reality fifty years ago too. But fifty years ago no one talked about it and the abuse was allowed to fester and grow like a cancer. Honest, open communication and parental vigilance are keys to prevention