Bystander intervention is about reacting responsibly to a child’s physical boundaries. When a child says “no or stop” to a behavior such as tickling or being asked to show affection towards an adult that they do not want , that boundary needs to be respected. Bystanders can describe the unwanted behavior to the offender, such as “It looks like Tommy does not want to be tickled, you are making Tommy uncomfortable. Bystanders can then set a limit for the child, “please stop, we let Tommy decide if he wants to be tickled. ” Finally move on, “Tommy let’s go see what the other kids are doing.” Offenders are rarely caught in the act of child sexual abuse, but they are often seen testing boundaries and breaking rules. It is important to know how to enforce boundaries and protect children. If the person continues to test boundaries and break rules, make a report.
Less than 40% of all child sexual abuse is reported. If a child experiences emotional or behavioral changes pay attention. Extreme changes in behavior can include chronic stomach aches, headaches, anxiety, difficult behavior and “too perfect behavior”. These changes do not always mean child sexual abuse is occurring, but it is a good reason to take notice. Learn the signs to protect children and keep them from harm.