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How do you protect your child from sexual abuse?

By By Chris Cole
Published On: Oct 09 2013 10:29:31 PM CDT
Updated On: Oct 10 2013 06:51:42 PM CDT

The underlying issue here is safety. You can't look at someone and know their intentions. So how do you keep your kids safe?

POCATELLO, Idaho -

A case of video voyeurism in Pocatello has many folks on edge. The Pocatello Police Department arrested James Blatter after he was accused of recording a young boy while he used the bathroom in the Pocatello Costco.

Video voyeurism is the use of any image-capturing device to record images of someone without the victim's knowledge or consent.

The underlying issue here is safety. You can't look at someone and know their intentions. So how do you keep your kids safe?

"When a sexual picture is being taken, sometimes the child doesn't even know that's being done,” said Kathy Downes, executive director of the Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center. “So would that cause trauma to that child? Probably not, because they're not even aware that it happened."

However, Downes says a parents' reaction to the news their child has been sexually abused can be very influential.

"If parents respond with a lot of crisis, trauma and anger and have strong emotional reactions,” Downes said, “that's going to impact their child even more strongly than possibly the event."

Downes said it's that classic parent battle: You want to protect your kids but you don't want to be overprotective. So she says all you can do is arm yourself with information about what to look for and knowledge on how to handle that situation if it happens.

She said with one out of every 10 children a victim of sexual assault, it's important to know what you as the parent can look for.

"Really, the best response is, 'Tell me more about that,'” said Downes. “You don't want to plant ideas in their mind or start asking who-what-when-where types of questions. Because that can actually cause a problem when they go to investigate that crime."

Downes says even taking all the proper precautions can't always protect your child.

"Ultimately there is no guarantee,” she said. “You can do all the right things and still have something bad happen. And really it's about what you do after that bad thing happens."

In a handout our reporter received, these seven steps were listed:

1. Learn the facts, understand the risks. Become aware of the significant threat that children face from child sexual abuse. Make decisions for children based on the facts of child sexual abuse rather than on level of trust in others.

2. Minimize opportunity. If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you'll dramatically lower the risk of sexual abuse for your child.

3. Talk about it. Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.

4. Stay alert. Do not expect there to be obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs of sexual abuse are often present - but the signs are often emotional or behavioral, not physical or verbal. It takes an alert adult to recognize these signs.

5. Make a plan. Learn where to go, who to call and how to react in the best interest of your child even if you have no suspicions that your child is being sexually abused. Formulating plans in advance can be of significant benefit to your child should abuse occur.

6. Act on suspicions. Being a silent bystander to sexual abuse could contribute to a lifetime of psychological and emotional problems for a child victim.

7. Get involved. Volunteer and financially support organizations that fight the tragedy of child sexual abuse. Use your voice and your vote to make your community a safer place for children.

Downes said Bright Tomorrows hosts a prevention training program called Stewards of Children. The program is held every month for a cost of $15 in advance and $25 at the door. You can call them at 208-234-2646 or email Taunya at taunya@brightcac.org to verify dates and times.

Costco's general manager, Gordie Carlson, released this statement: "Out of respect for the efforts of law enforcement in this active criminal investigation, Costco cannot offer any specific comment regarding this unfortunate situation involving a former Costco employee. Costco members can rest assured that the company will continue to cooperate fully with the investigation."

And as for Blatter, he posted the $30,000 bond for the felony charge two days after his arrest. He's set to appear at a preliminary hearing on Oct. 16.

This is his first felony charge. His record shows the only infractions before this were traffic-related.

Community Services Specialist Dianne Brush says the Pocatello police cannot give any additional comments on the investigation at this time.

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