Prevent sexual child abuse

2017-10-25 06:02

SAPS encourages parents to talk to their children about body safety at an early stage.

SAPS believe the sooner a child is taught about sexual abuse the better. It is never too soon, and it doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Below are some tips that could help your child be less vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Name body parts and talk about them 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 how their doctor can see them without their clothes because Mom or Dad are there with them and the doctor is checking their body.

Tell your child that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private part. Parents will often forget the second part of this sentence. Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else.

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.” Or it can be a threat: “This is our secret. If you tell anyone I will tell them it was your idea and you will get in big trouble.” Tell your children 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.

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.

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 you need to leave to go potty.

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. Children often tell me that they didn’t say anything because they thought they would get in trouble, too. This fear is often used by the perpetrator. Tell your child that no matter what happens, when they tell you anything about body safety or body secrets they will never get in trouble.

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. It is better to use the term “secret touch” as it is a more accurate depiction of what might happen.

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. You can say something like, “Mommy and daddy might touch your private parts when we are cleaning you or if you need cream — but no one else should touch you there. Not friends, not aunts or uncles, not teachers or coaches. Even if you like them or think they are in charge, they should still not touch your private parts.”

SAPS understands this will not absolutely prevent sexual abuse, but knowledge is a powerful deterrent, especially with young children who are targeted. It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children with the necessary knowledge to help them from being innocent victims to sexual abuse. - Supplied.

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