Main Image: 96five’s Tim Charles and Children’s Safety Australia Founder and Director Kim Kellaway. Listen: Kim shares some of her extensive experience working in the area of child safety.
The statistics around child abuse and neglect in Australia are sobering.
Every one and a half minutes authorities are notified about child abuse and neglect. Around 550,000 Australian children are impacted by abuse every year.
Kim Kellaway is the founder of Children’s Safety Australia and told 96five’s Tim Charles during Child Protection Week that the prevelance of sexual abuse is a shock to most people.
“About one third of children are impacted in their childhood and it’s mostly by someone they know. The sad fact about child sexual abuse is that very few children who experience it will disclose it at the time of abuse.”
“Less than 10 per cent of children will disclose in the year that they are abused, so people hold on to this for decades, and around half won’t disclose at all in their lifetime.”
Kim said that the flow on effects from abuse can affect a victim for the rest of their lives.
“It impacts their relationships, education and employment. It can result in either becoming a victim or offender in crime; so our prison population is a good example. It’s not to say that someone who hasn’t experience abuse can’t get over it, but disclosing it is such an important step to recovery.”
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With the statistics showing that children face the most risk from people that they know, Kim says the ‘stranger danger’ message that’s been popularised over the last few decades is not entirely accurate.
“Saying that strangers are dangerous can mislead children as to what they could do in the much more likely scenario that they need help to get away from danger posed by someone that they know.”
Kim said that a far better message to instill in our kids is that they have a right to feel safe.
“If they don’t feel safe they have a responsibility to do something about it – to go to a safe place and talk to an adult they trust. That’s only going to make sense to children if we talk about specifics.”
“Give them practical examples and ask questions. Where would be a safe place to go if you were playing at a friends house? What about if you felt unsafe at school, or in the playground, or if you get lost at the shops.”
“Help find places they can relate to in terms of where is a safe place to go to, who could be a trusted adult and what would I say. That’s really key for kids.”
For more resources on keeping our kids safe you can visit the Children’s Safety Australia website.