UTAH (ABC4) – With new cases of child sex abuse coming to light from religious leaders, former politicians, and other trusted positions, parents may have asked, what can I do to prevent this from happening? 

Prevent child Abuse Utah said the best thing parents can do is to open conversations with your kid as early as possible that way you can catch uncomfortable behavior before it becomes sex abuse. 

“90% of the time when a child is sexually abused it’s done at the hands of someone they know and trust,” Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Utah Laurieann Thorpe said. 

She said 1 in 7 kids in Utah are sexually abused, typically by friends or family, and the best way to prevent it is by talking about it. 

“If you’re having those conversation early enough and often enough you can interrupt the grooming cycle,” Thorpe said. 

That means making a safety plan and having open conversations about what is appropriate, using anatomically correct terms. 

She said to help kids understand they can set their own boundaries, they can say no to things like tickling or hugs and if something happened that makes them uncomfortable, you’re going to back them up. 

“And helping them just to process when to talk to you i think is really helpful because you want them to talk to you when the touching is happening on the elbow and making them feel weird,” Thorpe said. 

She said there may not be any signs of the abuse. But sometimes reverting back to old behaviors, not wanting to go certain places, or having advanced sexual knowledge can be tells. 

She also said be cautious of adults who are paying extra attention to a single child. 

And when kids are abused, Thorpe said they often feel immense guilt, either because they think they allowed it to happen or because their bodies reacted to it, but it’s always on the adults to protect them. 

“It’s never the child’s fault and it can be a protective adult’s responsibility to make sure that they know that,” Thorpe said. 

She said kids should have 5 people kids they trust to talk about this information.  And you can even go through scenarios with them in which they should talk to a trusted adult.