Sexual Assault Awareness—10 Tips for Protecting Kids

Sad girl in dark room

April is sexual assault awareness month, and with a majority of Americans sheltering in place as a result of Coronavirus, violence against children and domestic partners has risen dramatically in recent weeks. For the first time ever, a majority of calls to one leading sexual assault hotline were made by minor children who reported being victimized by a family member. To make matters worse, experts are also predicting a rise in online sexual abuse targeting children during the pandemic. In the United States, the FBI has even issued guidance to parents that children are at an increased risk of exploitation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are ten helpful resources all parents and trusted adults can read and watch to help keep children safe during the crisis and always.

  1. Talk to children about body safety, including using proper terminology for body parts.
  2. Explain how the Internet has become the new frontier of sexual abuse and explain digital consent to your children and the ramifications of various privacy choices minor children make online. In the U.S. alone, nearly 70 million photos and videos depicting child sexual abuse were reported to authorities last year.
  3. Sign a petition calling on Pornhub to better police its content and change its rules around age and consent. Read the story of one young woman whose sexual assault was videotaped and put on Pornhub without her consent. Or listen to a two-part podcast from the New York Times explaining how child sexual abuse imagery is nearly impossible to remove from sites like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
  4. Learn how to spot the red flags of online child enticement as well as other online safety guidelines with this tip sheet.
  5. Practice extra vigilance with children’s online activities since many social media companies are admitting that there will be a shortage of content moderators during the crisis.
  6. Learn the warning signs that a child may have been sexually abused in this helpful list prepared by RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).
  7. Practice what you preach when it comes to consent and respecting a “no.” This helpful article includes a video prepared by Planned Parenthood for ways to talk to kids about healthy relationships.
  8. For parents of teens, Common Sense Media has five classic 80s films to watch with your kids and how to use the cringe-worthy content to spark discussions around consent, sexual assault, substance use and violence, and humor and sex.
  9. Check out these books aimed at tweens and parents addressing sexual harassment during the middle school years.
  10. Read our list of 10 Things Men Can Do To Prevent Gender-Based Violence, created by Jackson Katz, a featured expert in our film The Mask You Live In.

Take Action! Share this article during Sexual Assault Awareness Month to help all parents and trusted adults become more educated about childhood sexual assault.