As parents, we tend to think that our children are safe as long as they are not left unsupervised. Hence, we make sure that we live them with an adult who is well-known to the family, such as a friend or a relative. However, studies reveal something quite surprising. A 2000 report by the Criminal Justice Source Statistics found that most sex offenders are usually around the age of 14. On the other hand, many sex offenders are actually friends or relatives of the family. So, while it is good to discuss “stranger danger” with your kids, it is not enough to keep your kids away from sexual abuse. So, let’s discuss some of the most important tips for every parent to save their child from sexual abuse.
Educate Your Children About Body Parts
It is best to teach your children the correct terms for each of their body parts the moment they start speaking. Doing so will help the child to communicate clearly if he/she has been touched inappropriately.
You can start by referring to the body parts as the parts that go under a swimsuit, and then clearly state them as the vulva, vagina, penis, bottom, breasts, and nipples. Each of these parts is called a private part and no one should touch them except for their parents or a doctor (only in the presence of a parent). On the other hand, the child should also not touch anyone else’s private parts with any part of their body such as the hands, feet, or mouth.
Tell a Story
Every story has a moral and telling story is the best way to teach your child a lesson. Buy a couple of storybooks that have stories about ways to avoid child abuse. It is a great way to begin a conversation with your child regarding such a delicate subject. Read these books out to them periodically and use sections of a story as a jumping-off point to ask them questions. It will help to reinforce the lesson.
What to do if Someone Asks Your Child to Show Their Private Parts?
If someone asks your child to show their private parts or shows your child their private parts, then they must inform you (the parent), or someone in authority. Your child must do so irrespective of who the adult is, be it a sitter, a relative, or even an older child.
You can say “There are times when mommy or daddy help you wash your bum when you go potty. Other than us, no one else needs to touch you over there. Also, now that you are 3, you can wash yourself in the bath. So, if anyone wants to touch your private parts, you must come and tell me right away!”
Speaking like this will instill all the guidelines to be followed if anyone acts inappropriately with your children.
Ask Your Child The Right Questions Now And Then
- What are you going to do if someone touches your bottom?
- Why is it so important to tell immediately?
- Whom will you tell?
- What will you do if the toucher told you “It is our secret”?
- What will you do if the toucher threatens you and says he will hurt you or me?
Asking these questions periodically is one of the best ways to keep your kids away from sexual abuse as it will ensure that you and your child stay confident and brave. Tell your child to say that he/she will tell a parent or teacher as if it is their body.
Play “What If”
Experts highly recommend playing the “what if” games with your children as it is one of the best ways for your children to rehearse not just what they will say, but also what they will do. Moreover, asking these questions in your presence and within a make-believe scenario will give them the courage to act strategically in a real-life situation. This is one of the best ways to avoid child abuse since it helps to program their subconscious mind.
Highlight The Importance of “No Secrets”
A demonstration is the only way to teach. Hence, putting this rule into practice is the only way your child will realize the significance of “no secrets”.
Let’s say, a relative says to your child- “We will go out to the ice cream parlor later and I’ll get you your favorite ice cream, but it will be our little secret”. To that you must clearly, but politely say- We don’t do secrets in our family. Then turn to your child and say- “We may have surprises at times, but never secrets. We tell each other everything.”
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It is crucial to let your children know early on that they are the ones who are in charge of their bodies. They decide how someone touches them. As a parent, you must never force them to hug or kiss anyone as this would contradict what you teach them. So, if your child sees someone after a while, you must ask them- “A hug, handshake, or high-five?” Such a strategy will allow your child to choose, make decisions, and in turn, boost his confidence.
One of the ways that predators operate is by telling kids that their parents will not believe them, punish or disown them if they told their parents about what is happening to them. On your part, you must explicitly tell your child that they are always welcome to approach you and tell you what is going on with them.
Clearly stating that you will never be angry or hold them responsible if someone touches them inappropriately is a sure way to keep your kids away from sexual abuse.
Always encourage your child to trust his/her feelings. So, if he doesn’t feel right about someone’s presence or actions, tell him that he must get away from there as soon as possible, and call you or a teacher right away.