Welcome to Green Bear!
This page was created to assist parents/guardians/concerned adults in educating children regarding body safety and child abuse prevention efforts. We will assist adults in educating children on 3 primary topics:
- Defining sexual abuse in a developmentally appropriate manner.
- Disclosing abuse to an adult who can help them.
- Deterrents or prevention efforts that can be used to attempt to prevent child abuse from occurring.
The Green Bear Project has many classes available to educate southeast Missouri:
- The Green Bear Project for children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade
- S.A.F.E Guides and Surviving the Dating Game for students in 6th – 12 grades.
- Raising Healthy Children in Your Community for adults concerned about preventing child abuse at an individual, organizational, and community level.
- A Guide for Mandated Reporters guides Missouri’s mandated reporters through recognizing signs of child abuse, responding to a child who discloses abuse, and reporting child abuse to Missouri’s Child Abuse Hotline.
For more information regarding our FREE programs, click Our Programs.
Defining Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse is any sexual activity between an adult and a child or between 2 children where one exerts power and control over another.
Physical – Involves touching
- Inappropriate touches- oral sex or fondling
- Rape or attempted rape
- Using a child to create sexually explicit images or videos – formerly called child pornography and is now call child sexual abuse materials (CSAM).
Non-Physical – No touching is involved
- Viewing CSAM
- Genital exposure, including masturbation
- Talking about sex designed to shock a child or spark interest
- Allowing a child to watch or hear sexual acts/materials
- Peeping into a child’s bedroom/bathroom to spy
- Luring a child online
- Creating obscene or pornographic photography/videos (CSAM)
- Sex trafficking – which includes the recruitment, harboring, transportation, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a child under 18 years of age for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
Statistics Regarding Sexual Abuse
- 1 in 10 children will be abused by their 18th birthday
- 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys
- If you take those statistics and apply them to Missouri’s census, over 159,000 children will be abused in Missouri alone!
- Apply those statistics to the United States population – 7,300,000 children will be abused before the age of 18.
- Of children who are sexually abused, 20% are abused before the age of 8 years.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children under 17 years of age.
*Source is Darkness to Light
Reasons Children Do Not Disclose Abuse
Relationship with the Perpetrator – If the abuser is a family member or friend, the child may be confused or may worry that they will not be believed or that disclosure can harm the family unit. Perpetrators will use any means necessary to prevent disclosures. They may even go as far as to convince the child they are in a romantic relationship.
A child is more likely to disclose abuse if the perpetrator is a stranger or friend/acquaintance, and less likely to disclose if the child loves and/or is related to the perpetrator.
Lack of Understanding – Depending upon the child’s age and level of developmental maturity, the child may be unsure or unaware that what has happened to them was wrong or inappropriate. This can happen with younger children or cognitively impaired children, as the perpetrator can tell them what they are doing is a game or normal behavior.
Manipulation/Grooming – The perpetrator will bribe, threaten, coerce, or initiate secrecy to prevent the child from disclosing.
Self-Blame – The number one reason children do not disclose is because they feel the abuse is their fault. The child feels they did something to cause the abuse, and the perpetrator will promote these feelings of guilt in the child.
Gender – Girls are more likely to report abuse than boys.
Child Sexual Abuse Perpetrators
Child abuse perpetrators are not easily recognizable – not all perpetrators are alike. Many have good social skills and are known and trusted in their communities. Most perpetrators are known to the victim (>90%).
Perpetrators are someone the child likes, loves or lives with.
Children can sexually abuse other children. According to Darkness to Light, it is estimated 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by other children. This does not make the adolescent/teen a perpetrator and they should receive services such as counseling to prevent further abuse on children.
- As many as 40% of children who are sexually abused are abused by older or more powerful children.
- 70% of child sexual offenders have between 1 and 9 victims, while 20% have 10 to 40 victims.
- 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser – it is someone they like, love, or live with.
- 60% of children are sexually abused by people their family trusts
- 30% of children who are abused are abused by family members
- 10% are victims of strangers
Source: Darkness to Light
Perpetrators state they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single parent or broken homes. Perpetrators seek out children who are particularly trusting.
Perpetrator Red Flags
Full Body Hugs – Teach children about kisses and touches that are okay, and not okay. Encourage high fives instead of hugs.
- Do not force your child to hug or kiss someone if it makes them feel uncomfortable.
Rides Home Alone – Question frequent rides home alone from practice, events, or one-on-one meetings with an adult. Your child should only accept rides from a pre-approved adult, and they should not get in a car with anyone, unless receiving parental approval, before entering the car.
Long or Repeated Phone Calls/Texts/Direct Messages – An adult is not a child’s peer. Parents should be very wary of an adult who acts like one.
Presents Targeting One Child – If cards, gifts, or awards are targeting one particular child, this can be a sign of abuse.
Roving Professionals – Be cautious of professionals who move frequently. Parents should ask for references and background checks for anyone involved in your child’s life. Keep in mind, this only indicates if someone has been convicted of an offense.
Losing Interest in Activities – If a child suddenly loses interest in their favorite activity – this is a significant red flag. Ask your child if something happened or if someone said or did something that frightened them.
Secret Keeping – Children should not keep secrets from their parents. If another adult is asking your child to keep secrets from you about anything, but especially places they go, things they do, or presents they receive, this is very worrisome.
Sleepovers – Even if many children are invited, make sure at least 2 adults are present to chaperone. After your child returns home from an overnight visit, ask them what they did, who was there, and if anything happened that scared them or made them feel unsafe.
There are an estimated 500,000 predators active each day online and all have multiple online profiles.
Online Safety Statistics
- Nearly all children use social networking sites
- 82% of 5-7 year old children
- 96% of 8-11 year old tweens
- 99% of 12-15 year old teens
- 90% of children between the ages of 8-16 have seen pornography online (usually by accident).
Advantages for Online Predators
- They have instant access to other child predators world-wide. These predators:
- Validate abnormal behavior/openly discuss sexual desires
- Gather and exchange child pornography
- Share tips for evading law enforcement
- Work together to lure children
- Perpetrators have instant access to millions of child victims world-wide. Perpetrators can:
- Disguise identities for approaching children (pose as another child)
- Build a long-term internet relationship with a potential victim prior to engaging the child in physical contact
- Groom online – they can be charming and friendly, claiming to understand victims and be sympathetic to their issues, lulling a child into a false sense of security.
Any child can be victimized online. It does not matter if the child is a “straight A” student, is considered well-adjusted or has many friends. Every child has emotional vulnerabilities that can be exploited if accessed by a perpetrator with the skills and motivations.
A predator may try to groom children online by:
- Flattery – Complimenting your children and attempt them to turn against family/friends.
- Bribes – Send gifts like cell phones and bus/train tickets
- Inappropriate contact – Discuss adult subjects and ask children to keep secrets from parents (this also tests children’s ability to keep secrets)
- Inappropriate photos – May ask teens for revealing images, and later use those same images as a type of revenge pornography.
Sponsored by The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, this informational website has videos, power point programs, cartoons, handouts and other forms of information discussing different strategic approaches parents can utilize regarding online safety education for children of all ages.
Log on to https://www.missingkids.org/NetSmartz.
How to Respond to a Child Disclosing Abuse
If a child discloses abuse, they are trusting you with a life-altering secret. Less than 40% of children who are abused disclose the abuse to someone who can help them. If a child tells you they have been sexually abused, always remember, I CARE!
If you have contacted Missouri’s Children’s Division and feel your concerns have not been addressed, below are some additional resources by county:
|Bollinger County||Cape Girardeau County||Dunklin County|
|Mississippi County||New Madrid County||Pemiscot County|
|Perry County||Scott County||Stoddard County|
The Green Bear Project is sponsored by Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence and private donations. For more information, click on their website: www.semonasv.org
Additional Resources for Parents:
- Green Bear Guidelines
- Green Bear Guidelines for Teens