Child sexual abuse is one of the worst crimes to commit on children. As parents, we can do plenty to protect our kids from danger and harm. Here’s how.
We talk often about pool safety and road rules. But child sexual abuse remains clouded with taboo that we need to lift. Yes, we should encourage trust in others and self-sufficiency in themselves. But we also need to balance their independence with information and a protocol to keep them safe.
Keep your child safe from child sexual abuse
Even though our toddler is young, we six tips will help him understand what is acceptable or not. The first three we apply now while the last three we plan to tell him when he’s older and can comprehend better:
1. You have 100% jurisdiction over your body.
We don’t force our toddler to kiss and hug everyone so he knows that he determines who gets to touch him. I’ll also step in when others want to tickle or kiss him excessively when he isn’t having any of it. With few exceptions (hygiene, health and safety), we respect our toddler’s body.
2. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to others, even adults.
We “respect the no” and acknowledge or stop when our toddler says so. Adults have authority, but that doesn’t mean we’re always right. And we want our toddler to know he can question and even defy authority should he feel it appropriate to do so.
3. We call our body parts by their anatomically-correct names.
Part of the taboo is we apply these funny names to our privates rather than using their correct ones. The message? These parts can be shameful, aren’t to be mentioned, or are silly and funny.
I get where this comes from. I myself have a hard time saying their names sometimes. It’s strange to them when an arm is an “arm” but privates are something completely different.
4. Trust your gut.
When something doesn’t feel right, even if it can’t be explained clearly, it’s okay to trust your gut.
Predators rely on their image as the trustworthy, charming guy. Or they seem like an authority, a can’t-be-wrong guy. So it can be difficult for kids to listen to their feelings and defy people they’re supposed to trust.
5. Tell. Keep telling until someone listens.
We plan to tell our toddler that he should tell his mom or dad anything. And if we don’t listen, he should tell his grandmas. And his aunts and uncles. And his teachers. And keep telling until someone listens and acts on his behalf.
I also want to ensure that no secrets come between us. And that anyone saying they’ll hurt him or his family if he tells is even more reason to speak up.
6. People have designated roles in your life, and no one should be crossing those lines.
It can be appropriate for parents to cuddle with their kids more than other adults. And as kids grow older, affection tends to lessen for more space and physical boundaries.
No parent wants their child to be the victim of sexual abuse. The thought of it makes me cry and get angry at the same time. Sadly, it happens far too often. And with victims so vulnerable, parents need to ensure that we’re doing all that we can to keep our kids safe. Nothing is 100% guaranteed, but every action helps.
How do you educate your kids about child sexual abuse? What other tips can you offer to help protect children?
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