Teaching Your Kids About Personal Safety
Presented by the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence
1 in 4 girls, 1 in 7 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse. More than 80% of the time it's someone the child knows.
How do you talk to your kids about these things?
- Start with empowering and supporting your child's right to say "No" to touching. Tell your children, "it's ok to say no if you don't like the way someone's touching you."
Acknowledge and respect when your kids tell you "no" when you're tickling them, to reinforce the stop response. Let your family members know that your working with your kids on their personal safety so they can respect the child's choice without getting their feelings hurt.
Often sexual abuse is a gradual incline, with the abusers testing and pushing the boundaries each time. If a child can say no at the beginning, they can likely stop the abuse.
- Talk about different kinds of touching: Types of touching that feel good: tickling and hugs from people you love, and overly familiar touching that makes them feel uncomfortable; even if it's from someone they know and like. Teach kids to recognize and trust their feelings about touching.
- Teach them to talk about uncomfortable and confusing situations.
- Clear and specific definitions and instructions that are age appropriate. Make sure you and your child know the words for their body parts. They don't have to be the anatomically correct words, but you and your child need to know exactly what they mean.
Also, give clear instructions on what they should do in certain situations, "If somebody touches your crotch, you tell them NO and come and tell me right away."
- Tell your children, "we don't keep those kinds of secrets in our house. And teach them the difference between a surprise and a secret: "A surprise is something that’s good that everyone is going to find out about at some point, a secret is something that no one is supposed to find out about and is bad."
Abusers often tell their victims to keep the abuse a secret, that it's something special between just the two of them.
What are things to look for:
Indirect statements, "the babysitter and I have a secret", "Mr. Jones has polka dots on his shorts"
Tricks bribes threats
Interest in genitals
Knowledge of sex beyond years
Afraid of a particular place or a particular person
Loss of appetite
Increase of appetite
Suddenly turning against one parent
*These behaviors aren't exclusive to abuse. But if a child is experiencing them, you should find out why.
Children who are at a higher risk:
Have less information
Have little sense of power
When a child confides, use the BASER method: