It is natural for parents to desire to keep their children close and protect them from the dangers of the world. However, as children grow older, they need to engage in activities outside of the home, such as attending school and participating in extracurricular activities. During these interactions, they may encounter strangers of various kinds. Although it is not possible to keep our children close to us forever, we can empower them with the knowledge and skills necessary to stay safe. Just as we teach them to be cautious around hot stoves and to look both ways before crossing the road, it is our responsibility to educate them about body safety.
It is important to recognize that most cases of Fighting child sexual abuse involve adults who are already known and trusted by the child. In fact, according to the US Department of Justice, only 10% of perpetrators are strangers, indicating that the majority are individuals familiar to the child. These individuals could be teachers, caregivers, neighbors, or even family members. However, this does not mean that we should prevent our children from exploring the world. Instead, we should equip them with the tools they need to protect themselves.
While we understand the fear and concern that parents may have, it is crucial to approach this issue from a positive perspective. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects, let us shift our focus to empowering our children to navigate the world safely. Here are five effective ways you can teach your child to speak up about sexual abuse.
Talk about Body Parts
Start conversations about body parts early. Use proper names, or at least teach your child what the actual words are for their body parts. When a child feels comfortable with these words and know what they mean, it helps them talk clearly about any inappropriate incidents that might have happened with them.
Teach Them about the Privacy of Some Body Parts
Teach your child that their private parts are called private because they are not for everyone to see. Explain them how only a doctor, a nanny or their parents can see them naked and touch their private parts, that too briefly, and for medical purposes or while giving them a bath. Even then, if they feel uncomfortable, they should speak up, immediately.
Teach Them about Physical Boundaries
Creating physical boundaries is extremely important. Most perpetrators often start by asking the child to touch them or someone else, prevent child abuse which is why you should teach them that it is not okay for someone to touch your private parts and neither should they touch anyone’s.
Ask Them to Not Keep Any Secrets
Most abusers tell children to keep the abuse a secret. This is often done in a friendly way or a threatening way, preventing children from reporting the abuse to a trusted adult, Tell your kids that, no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay and they should always communicate if someone is telling them to keep a secret.
Set a Code Word for Uncomfortable Situations
As your children get a little bit older, you can give them a code word that they can use in uncomfortable and unsafe situations. This can be used at home, at their friend’s, or when they are on a play date. This code word will instantly inform you that something is wrong, without alerting the perpetrator.
Let’s be honest, one discussion is not enough. You need to find natural times to repeat these messages. Create a safe space for your child and make sure they feel heard and supported.
For professional help, get in touch with Sanaa’s Stars; a charitable organization that believes in creating a nurturing environment for children and empowering them to reclaim their lives and reach full potential.