8 Ways To Make Your Child Less Vulnerable To Sexual Abuse
By: Shweta Thu, 28 May 2020 12:53 PM
As parents, the safety of our children is our primary concern. We teach our children all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. Right from steering clear from a hot stove to looking both ways before they cross the road we teach them everything that can keep them safe in the outside world. However, it is not until much later during their teens, if at all, that we start discussing body safety with them.
The number of sexual abuse cases are increasing rapidly and the most alarming is the fact that when children are faced with sexual abuse, they don’t know what to do. The worst aspect of child abuse is that, almost all the victims knew their perpetrator and more often than not, it is another kid!
Do your children go on play dates? Do they go to day-care or pre-school? Do you have friends or family over to your house? Do they play at the neighbour’s house? The fact is, you cannot fully prevent the risk of your child being sexually abused.You cannot disallow your children to go out into the world and interact with those around them,but you can arm them with knowledge that might save them from being victimized.
Here is what you can do to help your child be less vulnerable to sexual abuse:
* Talk about body parts early
Name body parts and talk about them very early. Use proper names for body parts, or at least teach your child what the actual words are for their body parts.Feeling comfortable using these words and knowing what they mean can help a child talk clearly if something inappropriate has happened.Tell your child that their private parts are called private because they are not for everyone to see. Explain that as parents, for bathing or to address medical emergencies, you can see them naked, but people outside of the home should only see them with their clothes on. Also explain the role of the doctor and help them understand that even during doctor’s visits, it is important that you (the parents) should be around.
* Teach your child body boundaries
Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else. Tell your child matter-of-factly that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts. It might be uncomfortable, but clearly mentioning the second part of this sentence is extremely important.
* Tell your child that body secrets are not okay
Most perpetrators will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret. This can be done in a friendly way, such as, “I love playing with you, but if you tell anyone else what we played they won’t let me come over again.” In worst case this can be used as a threat. Tell your kids that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay and they should always tell you if someone tries to make them keep a body secret. Also make it absolutely clear that coming out in the open about body secret, if any, will not get them in trouble. This fear of getting in trouble is another thing that the abusers use to keep children from narrating the incident.
* Tell your child that no one should take pictures of their private parts
This one is often missed by parents. There is a whole sick world out there of paedophiles who love to take and trade pictures of naked children online. This is an epidemic and it puts your child at risk. Tell your kids that no one should ever take pictures of their private parts.
* Teach your child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations
Some children are uncomfortable with telling people “no”— especially older peers or adults. Tell them that it’s okay to tell an adult they have to leave, if something that feels wrong is happening, and help give them words to get out of uncomfortable situations. Tell your child that if someone wants to see or touch private parts they can tell them that they need to leave to go potty.
* Have a code word your children can use when they feel unsafe or want to be picked up.
As children get a little bit older, you can give them a code word that they can use when they are feeling unsafe. This can be used at home, when there are guests in the house or when they are on a play date or a sleepover.
* Tell your child that a body touch might tickle or feel good.
Many parents and books talk about “good touch and bad touch,” but this can be confusing because often these touches do not hurt or feel bad. I prefer the term “secret touch,” as it is a more accurate depiction of what might happen.
* Tell your child that these rules apply even with people they know and even with another child
This is an important point to discuss with your child. When you ask a young child what a “bad guy” looks like they will most likely describe a cartoonish villain. It should be ingrained in their head that no one else should touch their private parts. Calling out clearly that even if it is someone they like or someone they feel are in-charge, they should still not be allowed to touch the private parts of your child not aunts, not uncles, not friends, not even teachers and coaches.