We teach our children many things in order to protect them 'Dont move or the wasp might sting you', 'Tie your shoelaces so you don't trip', 'Dont run with scissors', but we often fail to teach them how to protect themselves from child sexual abuse. As parents, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on how to protect our children from child sexual abuse.
It's estimated that 1 in 7 children experience child abuse and/or neglect. A child is most often abused by someone they know and trust such as a teacher, carer, someone from a community group such as a church, or at home by a relative. Over 90% of sexually abused children are abused by someone they know. To make things even worse, there has been a 60% increase in child sexual abuse cases over the past 4 years. Talking to your child about this sensitive issue can be difficult but it is one of the most important and life-saving conversations you will ever have with them.
Key advice to teach your child to prevent child sexual abuse:
Talk about body parts early - By making your child feel comfortable using the correct words to identify their body parts can help them talk clearly if something inappropriate should happen to them.
Explain to them that privates are private - Your child should understand that they should not undress in front of anyone except their parents and that NOBODY is allowed to touch their privates (even people that they know and trust). You may need to explain that in certain circumstances a doctor may need to but only in the presence of their parent.
Tell your child that body secrets are not ok - In most cases, abusers will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret. They may even tell the child that they could get in trouble, it's important that your child knows this is incorrect.
Teach your child how to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations - Children see adults as authoritative figures which means they find it difficult to say no to them. Explain to your child that if something feels wrong it's perfectly ok to ask that adult to leave or for them to come up with an excuse to leave themselves.
Books to help start the conversation of child sexual abuse:
This book is aimed at pre-school children. Julie explains boundaries through a tale of two fish that learn which parts of their body they should not share with others. It is a great way to gently ease into the subject of child sexual abuse in a way that young children can understand and feel comfortable with.
This book has a helpful page at the start of the book that explains to parents how best to use the book. It then goes on to explain some of the fundamental points that help children to identify child sexual abuse. This book is aimed at children aged 3-8 years old.
This book takes a more lighthearted approach to the subject while still being highly informative. The large print makes it a great book for a child to read along to and the rhyming language adds an element of fun to this dark topic.
NSPCC Talk Pants:
'With the help of our friendly dinosaur Pantosaurus, Talk PANTS is a simple conversation to help keep your child safe from child sexual abuse'. The NSPCC Talk Pants campaign helps parents and carers to open up a conversation about child sexual abuse in an easy, fun, and interactive way. They provide lots of resources including crafts and activities for your child to learn with and are currently raising funds to create their own Pantosaurus book. Check out their youtube video below:
It is our responsibility as parents to protect our children by giving them the confidence to use their voice to speak out against child sexual abuse wherever they may come across it throughout their life.