As an advocate for Body Safety Education both in homes and schools, I implore you to use the correct anatomical terms for your child’s genitals — VAGINA, VULVA, BREASTS, BOTTOM (BUTTOCKS), PENIS, TESTICLES.
Here are 8 very important reasons why!
1. If a child is touched inappropriately, the child can tell a trusted adult on their Safety Network accurately, i.e. “XXXX touched me on my penis.” This has a lot more weight if the child’s accusations were to go to court.
2. If a child says to a teacher, “XXXX touched my cookie,” this may be discounted. But if that child says, “XXXX touched my vagina,” the teacher will likely to listen to the child and take her seriously.
3. If a child says to the perpetrator, “Stop! Don’t touch my vagina!” The potential abuser knows this child is empowered with Body Safety knowledge. This child is less likely to be targeted. Also, pedophiles will be wary of the child who uses the correct names for the genitals because these are adult terms. And if the child does tell, adults will not easily dismiss the touch as “harmless fun.”
4. If your child starts to use “pet names,” you might question where they are hearing these; as your family uses the correct anatomical terms. This can be a red flag to grooming and abuse.
5. Using pet names with your child makes it easier for a pedophile to “off load” any complaints of inappropriate touch. It can also be easily dismissed by adults uneducated in Body Safety.
6. Using the correct anatomical terms help explain to children changes to their body as puberty kicks in. The topic can be discussed without making jokes or belittling its importance.
7. If your child’s genitals are hurt or there is a medical problem, it’s easier for your child to tell you or a health care professional with more accuracy. For example, recently a 7-year-old boy told both myself and the class, he was unable to play sports because he had hurt his testicles. Not one child giggled and I was able to say with genuine concern, “No problem. I hope you feel better soon.”
8. Having pet names for their private parts could inadvertently teach your child that their private parts are places we shouldn’t speak about, and that they are “rude places”. Your child could be lead to believe that he or she must keep it a secret if someone touches their genitals (or they are asked to touch someone’s else’s genitals).