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Legacy in the News: CARES Northwest urges parents to protect kids from abuse this summer

FOX 12

July 17, 2014

A sudden spike in child abuse reports earlier this month has CARES Northwest staff speaking out. With school out, they say you need to take a close look at who watches your kids this summer, no matter if it's at daycare, or camp.

Sally Blackwood, intake counselor says that the Monday after the Fourth of July weekend, they saw 28 referrals for abuse cases in that day alone. That's more than they usually see in one week.

"Someone who has a problem with abusing kids is really good at figuring out where the vulnerabilities are, and sadly sometimes that's at summer camps," said Blackwood.

Blackwood tells FOX 12 they're seeing children being victimized by their camp counselors, or day care providers. Especially cases involving adults snapping private photos of kids on smart phones. Enough so, they want to remind parents about the best way to protect their children.

"I think it's good to make sure kids know the name of what their private parts are, and know that there are rules about those parts. Really make sure with little kids you tell them that keeping secrets about their private parts, isn't OK," said Blackwood.

Blackwood says parents can also be on the lookout for adults who pay their child extra attention and maybe even give them gifts.

"That's when I think you should be concerned, not just about anybody, because most don't hurt kids," said Blackwood.

Here are tips and questions doctors say all parents should ask to make sure your child has a safe summer.

Before kids leave home, make sure they know about:
• Correct names for all body parts so they are comfortable talking about them.
• Personal boundaries. Teach kids that their bodies belong to them and they have the right to say, "no," to touches that bother or confuse them. Teach them to respect other kids' and grownups' personal boundaries.
• Remind kids that no means no, to help them resist peer pressure.
• Some adults and kids have touching problems and break rules about personal boundaries. They might use bribes, like candy, money and drugs, and ask kids to keep it secret.
• Teach kids to tell you, or a safe grownup right away if someone scares them or makes them uncomfortable.

Check out camp and program policies:
• Ask when parents are notified if there are concerns of abuse.
• Ask if all staff and volunteers are screened and trained in sexual abuse prevention.
• Find out how staff report concerns of abuse.
• Find out how concerns of abuse are addressed by management.

Know camp and program rules:
• Are families told about clear expectations of behavior before the program begins? Once you know the program rules, talk with your child about them.
• How are romantic relationships and inappropriate sexual advances addressed?
• Are kids encouraged to voice their concerns? And are their concerns heard and treated seriously?

Important next steps for parents:
• Get to know people your kids spend time with – friends and their parents, neighbors, activity directors and camp staff.
• Pay close attention when someone shows your child a great deal of attention or gives them special gifts. Talk with your child about that person. Tell that person or his/her supervisor that you are not comfortable with your child being treated differently.
• Speak up if you see concerning behaviors and report abuse immediately.
• Be a good role model. Demonstrate good boundaries and respect others' boundaries.

Abuse prevention resources:

To watch and read the FOX 12 story click here.  

Contact: Maegan Vidal