While there is no foolproof way to protect your kids from sexual abuse, there are steps parents can take to reduce the risk.
The challenges of talking to kids about abuse
Talking to kids about sexual abuse can be awkward. That’s because some may not understand that it’s highly inappropriate or that they have the right to reject the advances of others. Luckily, parents can get their kids to understand the dangers of unwarranted sexual contact through Body Safety Education (BSE). The techniques provided by BSE can give children the skills and knowledge they need to avoid mistreatment from sexual predators.
How can I teach my children about BSE?
Here are some to give your kids:
- Teach your child no one has the right to control their body: If a stranger or trusted adult asks your child for a hug, kiss or some other form of bodily contact, your child has the right to say no.
- Help your child build a safety network: While family circumstances may vary, you should help your child form a group of trusted adults that can be there and support them when trouble arises. The network should be full of adults who listen to your child’s concerns and will always believe their claims.
- Tell kids to trust their gut: Kids may not understand right away that they’re getting abused. However, their body will often give off warning signs that they’re in danger. If they’re feeling uneasy about an encounter, they should attempt to leave the situation and contact you, your spouse or another trusted family member.
- Come up with a safety word: Predatory abuse can happen anywhere with anyone, even if a parent is nearby. That’s why it may be a good idea for you and your child to come up with a safety word they can yell if they’re in danger. For instance, some parents may tell their kids to scream “pickle” if they are in trouble. That way, the adult knows something is going wrong and that they should act right away.
Kids can protect themselves by speaking up
When children know they have a voice and that adults who know and trust them will stand up for their rights, they can maintain a better sense of self-awareness. If you haven’t had a conversation about predatory abuse with your child yet, it’s never too late to start.