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November 2020

Tinder, a risk to our youth

What is Tinder?

In a nutshell, Tinder is basically a free dating app that matches people based off of several different factors. Factors include age, location and mutual friends and interests. If you come across a person you’re interested in, you swipe right. Until June of 2016, Tinder’s age requirement was only 13+. Although currently they have changed it to 18+. 

 

What is the Risk?

Any person can sign up for Tinder through Facebook. This being said, if your child lied about their age on Facebook, they can easily join Tinder even if they are under the age of 18. Unfortunately, not everyone on Tinder has good intentions. It can be used to find young children for ill purposes such as:

  • Promoting Sex

  • Pictures can reveal a child’s exact location

  • Meeting strangers

 

Tinder Statistics

  • 50 million users

  • 7% of users are STILL between the ages of 13-17

  • Over 100 million downloads of the app

  • Over 10 million daily active users

  • 79% of Tinder users are millennial’s 

 


Combating victim blaming

Lately, on social media, in the news and in our communities, there has been an increase in awareness and encouragement of survivors sharing their stories of abuse. For instance, the #Savethechildren movement. The stories have provoked a rise to action, however, there is still much work to be done going forward.

    A reoccurring problem, victim blaming, is when we think the victim is at fault for the harm that was done to them. A common example is some may say an individual was victimized due to the way they were dressed, or they were walking home alone late at night. These statements take the blame off the perpetrator and onto the victim. Research has blamed the tendency to victim blame to the just-world phenomenon, which basically is the belief that the world is just and people get what they deserve. People want to believe that the world is fair, so they tend to excuse the situation and in turn can end up blaming the victim. However, 1 in 10 children will be a victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.

    Victim blaming can also affect children who have experienced abuse. It can have a great impact on whether a child discloses and what details they share. Questioning the victim can possibly make them wonder if they should blame themselves for the abuse because of the lack of support and belief in their story. A child may have a difficult time disclosing because the situation could have involved a family member or family friend and they are scared they won’t be believed, or worse blamed. It is estimated that 30 to 80% of victims do not disclose child abuse before adulthood.

    When a story is told and victim blaming occurs, it is sometimes referred to as revictimization. The abuse that they go through is the initial wound and the second can result from how people around them respond. To avoid re-victimizing a victim we can:

  •       Begin by believing the victim. Let the child know that you believe him/her.
  •       Tell him/her that it is not their fault and that they are not in trouble. Sometimes self-blame occurs and it is important to address that they          didn’t put themselves in the situation.
  •      Understand that disclosure can be a dynamic event rather than a static one. Disclosure can be a process and one may share several things              throughout a period of time. It does not mean that we should think they are lying or believe them less.
  •      Don’t ask them too many questions. Reach out to law enforcement or DHHS to set up a proper interview.

 If a child discloses to you, it should always be taken seriously. Ensure that the child knows that you believe him/her. Remain calm and explain that it is not their fault. Do not investigate by asking probing questions, listen to what the child tells you and give positive feedback by saying things such as, “It takes courage to tell, and I am here for you.” Report any child abuse or suspicion of abuse to the Department of Health Services and/or Law Enforcement. Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-392-3738.


Spreading misinformation about child trafficking can cause more harm than good

Child trafficking and child sexual abuse have been getting a lot of attention thanks to the many #SaveOurChildren posts on social media. The increased awareness is important to help protect children, but there is a lot of misinformation, false stories, and conspiracy theories being shared and tied to the #SaveOurChildren campaign that are doing more harm than good.

Child sexual abusers and traffickers are less likely to be members of a secret or hidden organization than they are to be some of your neighbors – a local business operator, church director, doctor, or even someone of office. 

Not all press is "Good Press"

You may think "I am doing my part, Any awareness is good!” but that isn’t always true.  A bombardment of conspiracy-related reports from people with no direct knowledge of trafficking situations can overwhelm services meant for victims. These unsubstantiated claims and accusations can mislead well-meaning people into doing more harm than good, cause more trauma to victims, and damage the reputations of organizations leading the fight to stop child sexual abuse and child trafficking. The #SaveOurChildren movement is a valuable concept, but the fabrications being spread along with it is counterproductive.

Here are some truths!

  • Traffickers generally aren’t snatching children from their mother’s arms in the grocery store. The tactic of hauling off screaming children is too risky for them.
  • Victims of trafficking are usually persuaded by someone they know and trust, not likely by total strangers.
  • Victims of trafficking are recruited, manipulated, and made dependent using highly effective psychological and emotional ties and manipulation.

There are ways to help!

One way you can help combat child victimization is to educate yourself so you can better prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child victimization like trafficking, child sexual abuse, and online exploitation. We strongly encourage everyone to learn real facts, so they’re prepared to take action if a child is ever in need of help. Additionally, we encourage you to research an article or story’s validity before deciding to share it online. It’s best to stick with stories from credible news groups or organizations that are dedicated to protecting children.

Here are a few we support and encourage you to also follow and engage with: 

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking hotline at 1 (888) 373-7888.


Child Abuse & Neglect

​Child abuse is common. It is important to understand and reduce the risks of abuse for your child and familiarize yourself with the signs of abuse. The majority of cases reported to Children's Division involve neglect, followed by physical and sexual abuse. There is considerable overlap among children who are abused, with many suffering a combination of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or neglect.

Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that a child cannot understand or consent to. It includes acts such as fondling, oral-genital contact, and genital and anal intercourse. It also includes exposure to pornography. Studies have suggested that up to one in four girls and one in eight boys will be sexually abused before they are eighteen years old.

Physical abuse occurs when a child’s body is injured as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other show of force. One study suggests that about 1 in 20 children has been physically abused in their lifetime

Most child abuse occurs within the family. Risk factors include parental depression or other mental health issues, a parental history of childhood abuse, and domestic violence. Child neglect and other forms of maltreatment are also more common in families living in poverty and among teenage parents or who abuse drugs or alcohol. More children are abused by a caregiver or someone they know, than abused outside of the home by a stranger.

Child neglect can include physical neglect (failing to provide food, clothing, shelter, or other physical necessities), emotional neglect (failing to provide love, comfort, or affection), or medical neglect (failing to provide needed medical care). Psychological or emotional abuse results from all of the above, but also can be associated with verbal abuse, which can harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being.

Signs and Symptoms

It is not always easy to recognize when a child has been abused. Children who have been maltreated are often afraid to tell anyone, because they think they will be blamed or that no one will believe them. Sometimes they remain quiet because the person who abused them is someone they love very much, or because of fear, or both. It is not uncommon for the child's abuser to threaten harm to family members or loved ones for the child's silence.

Parents also tend to overlook signs and symptoms of abuse, because they don’t want to face the truth. This is a serious mistake that is sadly made all to often. A child who has been abused needs special support and treatment as early as possible. The longer the abuse continues or is left to deal with the situation on there own, the harder it is for children to be able to heal and develop optimally physically and mentally.

Here is a short list of physical signs and behavioral changes in children who may have experienced abuse or neglect:

Physical Signs

  • Any injury (bruise, burn, fracture, abdominal or head injury) that cannot be explained
  • Failure to gain weight (especially in infants) or sudden dramatic weight gain
  • Genital pain or bleeding
  • A sexually transmitted disease

Other Changes that Should Raise Concern

  • Fearful behavior (nightmares, depression, unusual fears)
  • Abdominal pain, bed-wetting (especially if the child has already been toilet trained)
  • Attempts to run away
  • Extreme sexual behavior that seems inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Sudden change in self-confidence
  • Headaches or stomachaches with no medical cause
  • Abnormal fears, increased nightmares
  • School failure
  • Extremely passive or aggressive behavior
  • Desperately affectionate behavior or social withdrawal
  • Big appetite and stealing food

Getting Help

If you suspect your child has been abused, get help immediately through your pediatrician or a local child protective agency. Physicians are legally obligated, as a mandated reporter, to report any suggestions of child abuse. The doctor also may testify in court if necessary to obtain legal protection for the child or criminal prosecution of the person suspected of perpetrating the abuse or neglect.

If your child has been abused, you may be the only person who can help him. There is no good reason to delay reporting your suspicions of abuse. Denying the problem will only make the situation worse, allowing the abuse or neglect to continue unchecked and decreasing your child’s chance for optimal physical and mental health and well-being.

In any case of abuse or neglect, the child’s safety is of primary concern. The child needs to be in a safe environment free of the potential for continuing abuse and neglect.

Remember

Open, two-way communication with your child provides the best chance that you will know early when a problem occurs. Emphasize that he will not get in trouble if he tells you about abuse or other confusing events. Emphasize that you need to know this to be able to keep him safe and that he will be OK if he tells you. Instead of teaching him that he’s surrounded by danger, teach him that he is strong, capable, and can count on you to keep him safe, as long as he can tell you about it.


Keeping children safe from child abuse during the holidays!

The holidays are a joyous time for adults and kids alike. But amidst the celebration, we’d like to let you in on an often-unknown secret surrounding this time of year. During the holidays, when visitors abound, schedules get hectic, and parents are often overwhelmed, all types of child abuse increase. So now is the perfect time to take a moment, slow down, and read on to learn how to better protect the children in your life.

Stopping Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse increases during the holidays when kids are often left with babysitters, there are guests staying in the home, and parents are often distracted. Here are some tips to better protect your child from sexual abuse:

  • Talk to your child. Discuss boundaries with your child. Teach them that their body is their own and no one has a right to touch their body or take pictures of them without permission. Let them know it’s okay to say no to unwanted hugs, kisses, or other affection. Tell them to talk to you or another Safe Adult if anyone crosses their personal boundaries. Learn more about the 5 Safety Rules and how kids can use them to stay safe. The key is to communicate regularly about abuse and safety.
  • Limit alone time. 80% of sexual abuse occurs in one child – one adult situations. If you limit the opportunity, you will better protect your child. If you do need to leave your child alone with someone, let the person with them know you may pop in to check on them. Keeping those times “observable and interruptible” is the safer way to manage alone time. This goes for alone time with other youth also, as 30% of all child sexual abuse is perpetrated by other youth.
  • Be alert. Often adults see indicators of abuse, but disregard the signs because the possible perpetrator is someone they know and trust. The sad reality is, that is exactly who we need to be watching. 90% of sexual abuse occurs by someone the child knows and trusts. No one is exempt, not even the closest, most beloved family member.

Preventing Physical Abuse

Increased stress, time commitments, and financial demands impact everyone during the holidays. However, for some families, this may lead to an increased risk of physical abuse. Here are some tips to help you keep your cool during this stress-filled season:

  • Take a breather. When you feel yourself on the verge of losing it with your child, take a break or a time-out. Send your child to their room or out to play, and you take some time to de-stress and calm down.
  • Reach out. Call a friend and ask for support. We are often reluctant to ask others for help, but in a stress-filled, escalating situation, asking for help is not a sign of weakness, instead it shows how much you love your child. If you need support beyond friends, reach out to a mental health counselor.
  • Be a support. Watch for signs of increased stress or possible abuse in those around you.  If you see the signs, reach out and tell them you understand, you want to help, and ask how you can help lighten their load.

 If you suspect abuse, please call the Missouri Abuse Hotline to make a report at 1-800-392-3738. 

Pause & Reflect – Don’t Neglect!

It’s very easy to put too much responsibility on kids with all you have to do around this time of year, or to leave kids home alone when they’re not quite ready. It’s important to make sure chores and tasks are age appropriate and that you don’t neglect your children because you are over-stressed or have too much to do. Reach out to neighbors for help, share responsibilities with friends, but make sure you’re not neglecting your kids during the holiday busyness and stress.

The holidays are about peace, love, and joy and we want everyone to experience all three this season, including children.

To request a mental health resource list please call the office at (660) 359-2874 or e-mail awhite@ncmochildren.org