How to prevent sexual abuse?
As parents, we teach our children many ways to be careful. For example, we tell them not to play in the kitchen when the stove is on, look both ways before crossing, not walk barefoot on the cold ground, etc. But generally, “bodily” safety is not taught until children are grown. And I can say that, in all cases, it is always too late.
During an investigation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it was estimated that at least 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. Another thing, according to the Department of Justice, only 10% of the abusers were unknown to the child and 23% of the abusers were children. Children who have been victims of sexual abuse, the majority are under 5 years old and almost all know their abuser. It is almost always another child who does the abuse.
Do your children go to daycare, or play at the neighbor’s house, or do you have family or friends at your house? The truth is that the risk of your child being sexually abused cannot be completely prevented. Many cases that have occurred have been inside their homes, in the backyard, school, pajama parties, school bus, etc. There are few parents who talk to their children about these issues. And less in advance. They believe that children are too young and some consider it a taboo subject.
The truth is, it’s NEVER too early and it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation.
- Talking about the parts of the body from the beginning is essential. Naming them with their correct name and teaching the children what these parts are will help if in any case the feared thing happens so that the child can identify if something inappropriate has happened.
- Tell your child that private parts are so called because they are not visible to everyone. Explain that as they grow older, it’s okay for Mommy and Daddy to be able to see their private parts because they may still need help going to the bathroom or bathing, but outsiders should always see them with their clothes on.
- Explain to your child that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask him or her to touch someone else’s private parts.
- Most abusers tell children to keep it a secret. It is important that you tell your children that no matter what someone else says or asks them, body secrets are not right and that they should always tell Mommy or Daddy.
- It is important to remember that the world today is very distorted and there are more and more existing pedophiles. Therefore, children should be taught that photographs are not something to be accepted from anyone either.
- Teach them to say NO. Many children just dealing with an adult can feel intimidated. That is why it is important that we as parents teach them to say no when they do not feel comfortable. It does not matter if it is an adult or another child. And that you should always notify someone else when parents are not around.
- As children get older, the topic can be discussed more openly and more detailed. Using a keyword that only the child and parents know can be very helpful. For example, if they are at a pajama party, or when there are guests at home, if your child does not feel comfortable with someone in particular, they can use this keyword and take action on the matter.
- Let your kids know that they will never get in trouble for telling “body secrets.” Make it clear to them that they will not get in trouble for any reason if they tell their parents what happened. This fear is generally imposed by the abuser.
These warnings will in no way prevent sexual abuse. But knowledge is a powerful deterrent, especially with other children.