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Talking to your kids about sexual abuse

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Cindy McElhinney is the program director for Darkness to Light, a children's advocacy group that aims to end childhood sexual abuse.

"Get educated, get the facts, and learn the facts. Understand that it can happen, get educated, get trained to learn all you can about how to protect children," says McElhinney.

According to the Darkness to Light website, there are things parents should know when talking to their children about sexual abuse prevention.

The first is learn the facts and understand the risks.

"Learn about why it's important to minimize one adult, one child situations. Minimize opportunities, reduce the risk. Insist on policy," says McElhinney.

Experts from Darkness to Light estimate that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. It's also likely that children know the abuser.

Caregivers should also understand why children are afraid to tell. 

McElhinney says abusers often tell the child their parents will be upset if they found out, or the child believes a parent will be hurt if they tell on the abuser. 

Another step asks parents to stay alert. Talk to the kids about their body and what the boundaries are and explain that there are no secrets between parents and children.

McElhinney says, "We do need to be asking the question, 'What can we do to prevent it from happening in the first place?' The most important thing we need to be asking ourselves is 'What can I do?'"

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