WASHINGTON (WUSA9) - How do you encourage children to speak up when something isn't right, when they're often shamed into staying silent by their abuser?
Here's some ways you can protect your child against sex predators:
1. Experts say the best way to prevent a sexual predator from taking advantage of your child is to simply talk.
Dr. Anita Gahdia-Smith is a psychologist in Northwest, D.C. She says if you open up a dialogue and talk to your child about what healthy sexuality is and what's not, you are well on your way to helping your child protect themselves from being sexually abused by a coach, teacher or other adult.
"Don't make it a taboo, make it something that's OK to talk about. Parents have to push past their own issues around it and consider it a normal part of education and parenting and part of their responsibility," she said.
She says this let's your child know they can come to you, about anything.
2. Dr. Gahdia Smith says the second step is to "educate your kids about boundaries and saying no. Help them to be assertive, to learn how to speak up for themselves, to stand up for themselves, and to go to the appropriate people, if anything inappropriate happens to them."
Sometimes an abuser will threaten a child not to say anything.
"That is a form of manipulation and intimidation and control and, unfortunately, sometimes it works but if you have prepared your child that this is something that does happen to some people - it may not happen to you, but if it does happen to you - come and talk to me about it, you're not going to be in trouble, it's not going to get you in any problems, just feel safe enough to come and talk to your parents about it," said Dr. Gahdia-Smith.
3. Dr. Gahdia-Smith said parents should teach their children the following:
"Don't be afraid to question people who are in authority. The greatest gift that a parent can give a child is the self-confidence to believe in themselves and to stand up and take care of themselves."
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