Child Sexual abuse is still a taboo topic in many homes. We don’t talk about it, we don’t want to hear about it and we just pretend it would never happen in our homes. What if I told you that educating your child about the dangers of sexual abuse could protect them?
What if I told you that teaching them about the proper names for body parts could help give them the language they need to keep themselves safe? Well, the fact of the matter is knowledge is power. The more age appropriate information you give your child, the better equipped they will be to handle difficult situations. Let’s begin by discussing the language we use.
Too often we use pet names for our body parts. We call vagina’s pocket books and penis’s ding-a-lings. Although this may help the parent in a moment of discomfort to communicate with a child, it does not help the child develop the vocabulary needed to express themselves in the event of abuse. For example, could you imagine the child who runs to the police officer and says to them that, “that man or woman touched my pocket book”?
It may even take you a while as the parent to get what they are trying to say to you. Teach your children the right names for their body parts. This can begin right from birth. If they touch their penis, you say “penis” or if they ask you, “mommy, what’s that”? Then you say, “Breasts”. Another way to educate your child is by informing them of who can touch them and for what purpose.
If your child is a toddler, it is very important that they understand the difference between being assisted and being fondled. If they are capable of caring for themselves, then only the parent and medical professionals should be allowed to examine their genitalia or other private body parts. We know that perpetrators of sexual abuse are typically relatives or people close to the family. So, it’s important that we inform our children that they should not be afraid to tell their parents if someone, no matter who it is, touched them inappropriately.
Which leads me to the next point, how to distinguish a good touch from a bad touch. Educate your children on what good touches and bad touches are. They should know that a hug or high five are good touches. Bad touches are touches to their private areas or any touch that makes them feel uncomfortable. You can use dolls to do this or even role play with your child. Finally, let’s talk about supervision.
Child-on-child sexual abuse is extremely common. Children who are left alone playing house or playing unsupervised in general are at risk for inappropriate sexual behaviors. Educate your child on what behaviors are acceptable during play time and ensure that an adult is always present to monitor their activities. I would highly encourage anyone who uses nanny or baby-sitting services in their home to keep the home monitored to ensure the safety of the child.
These steps reviewed frequently with your child will greatly increase their chances of not falling victim to sexual abuse.