Talking to your kids about sexual abuse might be more difficult for you than sex education. However, considering the growing number of cases of sexual exploitation of kids, this is a bitter pill every loving and caring parent has to swallow to keep them safe.
- Stay Calm: Do not start the conversation in stress or harassed frame of mind. They will only react to the fear and not register what you are saying. Talk to them in a calm, loving tone. Do not make it sound like the subject is dirty or taboo.
- Explain: A five-year-old child is old enough to understand and remember a lot more than you give them credit for. While giving them a bath, explain to them about private parts and tell them no one other than their caregiver is allowed to see or touch them.
- Names: While you teach them the different parts of the body like nose, ear, lips, eyes etc., teach them the actual names of the private parts like vagina, penis etc. It makes communication easier. Talk to them about the difference in male and female anatomy. Your child should be aware and also able to speak clearly about it.
- Instances: Tell them that the only instances where the private parts can be seen or touched by a caregiver are to keep them healthy, clean or safe. Also, make them aware of these situations –like a visit to a doctor, taking a bath, changing clothes etc. Make them aware that even in these situations, if someone hurts them they are entitled to stop them and inform an adult about it.
- The touch: Make them understand that touching someone else’s private parts is also not acceptable even if they have been asked to. Inform them to tell you immediately if any such thing happens.
- My Body: Empower them with the permission to say “no” where their bodies are concerned. Teach them that they have control over their bodies and no one can touch them without their consent.
- Instinct: No one is on the safe list, not even family and friends. Tell your child it is okay to resist even if the adult is known to them.
- Secret: Teach them that a secret remains a secret even if your child shares it with you. Most perpetrators tell the child to keep it a secret. This makes the child feel that it is wrong to talk about it.
- Trust: Most importantly your child should know that you will trust them and believe them if they say that someone is hurting them. They should know without a doubt that telling you about it is the right thing to do.
- Aides: There are videos that are available on the internet that can assist you in this task. If you find it difficult to explain it, then let them see these educational videos and talk to them through it. Keep your tone casual and loving always.
Keep these conversations ongoing, casual and open. Keep an eye out for the way they respond to people and pay attention to what they say. All this should significantly reduce the risk of sexual abuse in their lives.