As news of the three sisters who had been repeatedly raped over a period of two years by two different neighbors came to light Monday, rape and child experts warned parents to read the distress signals their children send and always to keep the lines of communication open. They also urged parents to educate their children of the dangers of sexual abuse from both strangers and people they know.
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, Director of the National Council for the Child, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that children were never too young to be cautioned about the dangers of sexual abuse.
"For every age there is a way of teaching and explaining to children that there are certain private places on the body that are only for them to touch and no one else," said Kadman. "We can explain to them that when someone makes them promise to keep a secret it is not always a good thing and sometimes they must share it with a parent."
Kadman, whose organization publishes a manual called Children Talk Without Words to help guide parents on what the signs of child sex abuse are, said that there are numerous children's books that can help explain such delicate matters to children.
"We don't stop our children going out on the streets because there is a danger of a car accident," he said. "Rather, we teach them how to cross the road safely. Teaching children about sex abuse is the same principle."
Tal Kramer, executive director of the Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said that very often "parents closed their eyes to the possibility that their child is the victim of sexual abuse."
"It is very easy for parents to make excuses for their child's behavior," said Kramer. "They blame it on their school exams or on their circle of friends when something else is really going on."
Kramer warned: "Any extreme change in children's behavior could be a warning sign."
She also said that parents needed to keep the channels of communication open with their children and that children needed to be made aware that sexual abuse and rapes were possibilities that could happen to them too.
"There is no perfect recipe for preventing sexual abuse, rapes happen in every social class or community to both boys and girls," Kramer finished. "Parents always have to keep their eyes and their ears open."