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About the author:

My name is Hermien Schuttenbeld, I am a mother of 2 boys and a day how childcare provider, educator and occupational therapist of the Netherlands. Working with children has been my life’s passion. Children’s well being is the closest value to my heart. Children are the vulnerable ones in our society. They are dependent on us adults in every sense of the world. Raising our children is our highest and greatest responsibility in life. The experiences through our childhood developmental years set the foundation of who we are to become as how we stand as adults in life.

Children have the right and the need to grow up being nurtured, encouraged, respected, treated with dignity and to be able to feel safe, allowing them to grow up as strong, healthy, happy impactful individuals. Healthy balanced children lead to healthy balanced families. Healthy balanced families will create a foundation for a strong healthy community and society.

My Mantra is:
“Our children are our future, whatever we give to them will come back to us”.
“Family is the foundation of our society. If families fall, so will our society”.

This is why the following goes so to my heart and drives me to share my thoughts with you in the hope to create awareness and create strength in our families.


SEXUAL ABUSE - The Parenting and Social Obligation to Keep Children Safe

Today one of my day home parents walked in through my door devastated. She shared with me that a (male) babysitter in town, who she had first-hand contact with, but instinctively hesitate to care for her children, was criminally charged with sexual abuse against a minor. Only one week ago, another day home parent had shared that a man had been charged with possession and distribution of child pornography - here in Canmore.

Canmore and the Bow Valley is a small community, but our close-knit small-town atmosphere does not make us immune to crimes.

When my children attended Elisabeth Rummel School in Canmore, they were provided once a year with information and discussion about sexual abuse as part of the curriculum. As a parent, I received a small printed booklet on sexual abuse. I was grateful that at least this topic was talked about in school. But how much of this topic was discussed with our children?  What was taught? Was that enough? Should we as parents not be educated on this topic so we can better educate and support our children?

In the school provided booklet it stated: 1 out of 3 girls have had unwanted sexual encounters but the time they are 18; 1 out of 6 boys also had unwanted sexual encounters by the time they are 18. That means in a class of 30 children, 10 girls and/or 5 boys have likely had unwanted sexual encounters. This information shocked me and I struggled with this though to this day.

As a day home child care provider I am a big advocate for teaching our children about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors that are directed at them, that they are allowed to say ‘no’ and never to keep bad touches a secret. I believe it is important to start this education early, in age-appropriate steps, to help our children identify, avoid, and discuss their experience openly with adults they trust.

As parents, it can be easy to fall into a pattern of thinking this world is a trusting and safe place. We don’t want to think about these kinds of horrifying stories, especially in the context of our own kids. We may want to believe the naive and convince ourselves that the statistics (1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experiencing unwanted sexual encounters) are not the reality. But it is important not to turn a blind eye to this issue.

To protect and parent our children, we have to take the blinders off. We need to face this taboo and start openly talking about this topic.

Link/article: New data shows 1.8 million Albertans have experienced sexual abuse.

To educate ourselves and our children is an unquestionable must. We need to advocate to keep our children safe from harm because the scars of these kinds of incidents are life-long, leaving our children with what can be devastating aftermath for the rest of their lives. In a society where more than 50% of parenting couples separate before their children reach adulthood, the vulnerability is high.

Link:  Childhood Sexual Abuse: A Mental Health Issue 

We need to understand that sexual perpetrators are often not strangers. The US department of justice did a study in 2005 showing that 2/3 cases of sexual misconduct against children were perpetrated by a person know to the family or a family member, a neighbor, coaches, any position that will give them close encounters with children. (Statistics vary in different resources, nevertheless, it is giving us some reality)

Article & links: Child Sexual Abuse: A Cursory Review of Risk and Protective Factors for Victimization and Perpetration; Child Sexual Abuse Facts; Darkness to Light - Child Sexual Abuse Statistics - Coalition

I am thankful that this is coming more in the open. Recently a massive group of people was arrested in Ontario, which operated not only all over Canada but also lead outside the country. The people that have been involved were teachers, medical professionals, and persons who generally hold the trust of the public.

Article & Links: Web host charged in bust of ‘horrific’ child porn site; 122 in Child Pornography Investigation across Ontario last month; Canadians among 338 charges in global pornography operation that used bitcoin

We not only need to be educating ourselves in regard to sexual abuse, but we also need to challenge our perception about what types of people do these types of things. One thing for sure is that they have no conscience nor empathy.


With children and teens having access to anything and all matters on the internet, their chances to be exposed to inappropriate materials including pornography is high. We not only need to educate our self to help protect and empower our small children but also our teens.  As adults we need to identify healthy behaviors and boundaries first, to then model our children what are healthy boundaries, behaviors, and relationship. As a parent, we need support and information so we can skillfully guide our children.

Together with a few other parents, we would like to see support and education for parents and teens on this topic.

It is important for “us” to teach our children that if they ever are being exposed to inappropriate X-rated content, that they need to understand that this is, not the norm or healthy sexual interaction. With the digital world, we need more than ever help to educate our children about what is healthy and whatnot. We and our teens are setting the norm for sexual behavior for generations to come.

Article: Talk to your sons about sex the way you would about table manners

As parents, we carry the responsibility to educate and guide our children well. Keeping our children safe and well informed is our parenting and social obligation.

Relationships and communication with children and teens.

The biggest key is to build good strong relationships with our children and keep communication open, so when children are in stress and unhealthy situations, they feel safe enough to come to their parents and open up about there experiences and feelings. This means prioritizing quality time with our children to build a solid relationship and have regular open conversations on every and any topic.

Here are a few titles:

“How to talk so kids will listen & listen so kids will talk by”: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
“Hear me, Hug me, Trust me” by Dr. G Scott Wooding

Educate and protect yourself and your family

There is lots of information out there, that we do not want to know, but we will have to know. Please set aside social media and focus on family. Read and research this matter on the internet instead.




Parenting books:

  • “Protecting The Gift - Keep children and teenagers safe (and parents sane)” by Gavin De Bekker
  • “Speaking of Sex” by Meg Hickling (RN)
  • “Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect” By Jayneen Sanders and Sarah Jennings

Teen books & links:

Kids books:

  • “A Very Touching Book” by Jan Hindman (Really good)
  • “Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept” by Jayneen Sanders
  • “ My Body Belongs to Me, From My Head to My Toes” by Dagmar Geisler
  • “The Berenstain Bears: Learn About Strangers” by Stan and Jan Berenstein
  • “Not Everyone is Nice: Helping Children Learn Caution with Strangers” by Frederick Alimonti
  • “Please Tell! A children story about sexual abuse” by Jessi
  • “Mia’s Secret” by Peter Ledwon & Merily Mets
  • “Those Are My Private Parts” by Diane Hanson

Personality Disorders:




Hermien Schuttenbeld

Posted January 22, 2020