Protecting Your Child

Protecting Your Child

The abuse of children, whether sexual or otherwise is difficult to prevent since such offences are usually crimes of "opportunity". That is, the offender purposely waits until he or she is alone with the child before attempting to commit the crime. As a parent or guardian however, you can instruct your child or children on how they can reduce the risks of becoming a victim of a child molester or abuser.
  Q.   What is a Child?
  A.   For legal purposes a person under seventeen years of age, is generally considered a child.
  Q.   What do we mean by CHILD MOLESTING and CHILD ABUSE ?
An adult who DELIBERATELY annoys, bothers, causes trouble or who touches a child without his or her consent is said to be molesting that child. An adult who intentionally causes injury or who causes a series of injuries or who is neglectful, sexually molests and/or emotionally abuses a child is said to be guilty f child abuse.

• What Does A Child Molester Look Like? IMPORTANT: What Action To Take  
• What To Tell Your Children? • How To Give A Good Description
• Teach Your Children "The Childrens' Code" • Giving Your Child Help and Support
• Common Signs of Sexual Molestation • Some Facts You Should Know
• Your Responsibility • Recommended Reading
• After The Attack • Important Telephone Numbers

What Does a Child Molester Look Like?

Molesters can be male or female, casual acquaintances or complete strangers; they can also be close relatives or friends. They look just like everyone else. Remember, smart appearances can be deceptive!

What To Tell Your Children?

If your child is approached by a molester, or if someone tries to touch his or her private parts, instruct your child as follows:

  1. Run towards adults and make as much noise as possible.
  2. Tell an adult right away what has happened (a parent, teacher, police officer or trusted family member).
  3. Tell another adult IMMEDIATELY if you see somebody acting suspiciously around other children.

Teach your children that their bodies are PRIVATE - nobody has the right to touch their private parts (an exception to this rule might be a doctor or nurse - under certain circumstances).

Teach Your Children "The Childrens' Code"

NEVER go with a stranger or accept gifts from a stranger.
ALWAYS ask your parents permission to leave the property.
NEVER hitch-hike or accept a ride from a stranger.
ALWAYS tell your parents where you are going and with whom.
NEVER allow strangers into your home.
travel in 2's or 3's when going door to door (such on Hallowe'en)
NEVER take short cuts through the tracks.
ALWAYS return home before dark.
NEVER play in empty buildings.
use common sense - sometimes there are no rules to follow.
keep secrets from your parents - especially if asked by someone else.


Common Signs of Sexual Molestation

Loss of appetite. Irritability. Short tempered. Restless sleeping pattern (nightmares, fear of sleeping alone, fear of going to bed, waking in the night). Appears withdrawn. Engages in fantasy or baby-like behaviour. Seeks constant reassurances/clings to parents.

Unwillingness to be with certain people or to go to specific places. Develops new fears. Changes in behaviour towards friends - for example, attempts to recreate or act out a previous sexual experience. Adolescents become rebellious, steal, or skip school, or become sexually promiscuous.

Your Responsibility

Teach your child that a police officer is his or her friend and have your child learn the emergency telephone number on the back of this brochure. As a precaution, check out all babysitters before entrusting them with your child's care and make sure your child is properly supervised at all times.

Prevention education is available through SCARS and free of charge to all adults in the community. 

After The Attack

If your child claims to have been sexually molested, tell him or her that he/she did the right thing in telling you about the incident. Give your child your UNDIVIDED attention and listen closely to what he or she has to say. Let the child know that you are sorry and will protect him or her in the future. Give him/her advice to reduce the risks of becoming a repeat victim.

Try to help your child express himself/herself. Some children may find it helpful or easier to explain what has happened using a doll or puppet.

IMPORTANT: What Action To Take

Contact the nearest Police Station and explain what has happened. Unless your child is in need of medical attention or hospitalization resist the temptation to wash him/her until the Police arrive - YOU MAY BE DESTROYING VALUABLE EVIDENCE - Failure to notify the Police of such an incident could lead to another child needlessly being molested in the future - or your own child might be attacked again!

How To Give A Good Description

What did the molester look like? Use the drawings provided for reference.

A good description can be of immense value to the Police in their attempts to apprehend the molester.

Did the person travel by car or bike? What was the vehicle number? What colour was the vehicle? If you don't have a pen, scratch the number in the dirt.

Giving Your Child Help and Support

After the attack give your child support and reassurance that all is now well and that you love him/her. Continue to have faith in y0our child and do not blame him or her for what has happened.

Instruct your child to tell you IMMEDIATELY if the offender tries to molest him/her again. Alternatively he/she should tell a teacher, Police Officer or close friend/relative as soon as possible.

Respond to any questions from your child in a "matter-of-fact" manner. Let him or her know that the person who molested him/her did wrong.

At all costs try to maintain your regular lifestyle at home. Respect your child's privacy. Do not discuss the assault with others in front of your child or within your child's hearing. Don't allow persons other than Police Officers, Doctors, or Social Workers to question him or her.

Explain to the child's brothers and sisters that something has happened and that everything is now fine. Do not go into detail and dissuade his/her bothers/sisters from questioning him or her. Warn all your children about the dangers of child molestation and give your children advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Finally, discuss your own feelings with someone you trust; spouse, family Doctor, close friend, relative, Social Worker or trained counsellor. Conversely, avoid bringing up the subject repeatedly in front of your children.

Some Facts You Should Know

  • Children are usually molested by people they know - a friend, friend of the family or close relative.
  • Usually children are not violently attacked or physically hurt during such sexual assaults; HOWEVER, the emotional damage can be severe!
  • Children seldom lie when talking about such matters.
  • When telling you about the attack, children can either appear awkward and ill at ease or relate the details without problems.

Alternatively they may not say anything at all. Instead you might observe changes in your child's behaviour or a reluctance on their part to be with a certain person.

N.B. Cases of sexual molestation are normally followed up by the Family Services Department whose job it is to ensure the child is safe and to offer counselling to the child and/or family if necessary.

For the sake of ALL CHILDREN, report every know or suspected case of child molesting or abuse IMMEDIATELY.

Recommended Reading

The following Police brochures are available free of charge from Police Stations and Public Libraries throughout Bermuda. Also information is available on our website.

Home Security

Neighbourhood Watch

What Is Child Abuse

Babysitting Advice

Important Telephone Numbers

Police (Emergency)
Fire (Emergency)
Ambulance (Emergency)
Crime Stoppers
Department of Child & Family Services
Centre Against Abuse
Centre Against Abuse (24 Hour Hotline)
Child Development Programme
Hamilton Police Station
Somerset Police Station
Southside Police Station