8 TIPS TO HELP PROTECT KIDS FROM SEXUAL ABUSE
11 Tips To Keep
Your Children Safe
from sexual assault
Teach children accurate names for their private parts.
We teach children proper names for all other body parts, there should be no difference when it comes to their private parts. Using pet names for their private parts only reinforces shame associated with private body parts. However, when your children are raised to be comfortable with their body, they're more likely to tell you if they are being inappropriately touched. They're also more likely to be understood by authorities because they're using proper terms, instead of euphemisms.
Empower children about body safety and the difference between a “safe touch” and an “unsafe touch.”
Private parts are parts of your children's body that are covered by a bathing suit and kept out of view. Empower children to know that no one can look, touch or play games with private parts. Also, adults and older children should never ask for help with their private body parts like bathing or going to the bathroom.
Empower your children to be autonomous of their own bodies.
Teach your children they are the boss of their own bodies, which means they don't have to touch, kiss or hug anyone if they are not comfortable. Also, teach them to take care of their own private parts so they don’t have to rely on adults or older children for help.
Educate children about the difference between good and bad secrets.
Children should never be asked to keep a secret if that secret makes them feel sad, nervous or scared...especially if it is a secret about private parts. There is obviously a difference between a good secret, like for a surprise party and bad secrets, like the scenarios described above. But the usage of "keeping secrets" is a tactic often used by predators to "groom" children and test their boundaries: "Don't tell your mom I gave you this candy. This is our little secret." Make sure your children know the difference between a "good secret" and a "bad secret" - and that if anyone asks them to keep a secret at anytime that makes them feel weird, guilty or unsafe, they are to tell you immediately.
Make sure to have a "safety network" of 5 people that your children know and trust.
Your family safety network are 5 people your child can talk to if they are feeling sad or scared, especially if a body safety rule is broken and they need to talk to someone about it. They should be people who understand and respect the boundaries you set for your children and are respectful of your child's body autonomy.
Make sure to have a "family safety word."
Your family safety word is a word your child can use at any point with you or the people in their Safety Circle when they feel unsafe. For example, lets say your family safety word is "Carrots" or a phrase like "Can we go to the movies tomorrow night?" - if your child calls you from a sleepover and uses this word or phrase, this is a good indication your child is telling you they need your help without attracting unwanted attention towards themselves.
You can also have a "safety phrase" that you share with your children, relating to adults they can trust. They should know that if someone claims to have been sent by you to pick them up from school or any activity, this "safety phrase" has to be used. Your safety phrase should also be kept confidential and should primarily stay within the people who are a part of your safety network. It can be something funny or personal so it’s easy for the child to remember. A child should only go with someone who tells them the safety phrase that you have discussed as a family.
Be cautious of having your children wear identifying clothing.
Try and avoid putting your children's name on their clothing, backpacks and other gear. Personalised items with names can provide a potential abductor or abuser necessary information they can use to call your child out by name and trick your child into believing they know them. Having a "safety phrase" (as mentioned above in item #6) can be very helpful if a situation like this was to occur.
Instead of teaching your kids about "stranger danger", teach them to trust their instincts and stand up for themselves.
90% of the time, the abductor or the abuser is not the creepy strangers you hear about hanging around the school yard. Most often, it's the people you know. So, rather than teach your children to be cautious of strangers, teach them that it is more important to stay safe and to trust their instincts than to be polite or nice. It is okay for them to question, disobey, and even run away from someone whose behaviour is making them uncomfortable. If they are lost in a public place and they need help, teach them to look for a mother with kids, who can generally be counted on to help.
Teach your kids that adults don’t need help from kids.
If an adult needs directions, help finding a pet or anything else, they should ask another adult, not a child. Safe grownups don't ask kids for help.
The are scenarios which can be innocent and safe:
1. ”Have you seen my cat?"
2. ”There's supposed to be a park with a basketball court around here, do you know where that is?"
But surely you can see a difference between a question like that and this:
1. ”Can you help me look for my cat?"
2. ”Can you show me where the basketball courts are?"
It’s in this regard the statement is made “Safe grownups don’t ask kids for help.”
Let your child know it’s OK to yell, scream, and say no to an adult if they feel uncomfortable or scared.
We teach children to listen to adults and not to be disruptive, but there are times they should disobey and be loud. Teach your child what constitutes improper behaviour on the part of an adult, and if they ever feel unsafe to trust their instincts and walk away immediately. If they feel unsafe in public, it's OK for them to fight back and shout "Help me! This is not my parent!"
Trust your instincts!
If you feel uneasy about leaving a child with someone, don’t do it. Only leave them with people you trust. At family gatherings or play dates, make sure your children are never left alone with an adult or an older teen in a closed room. If you are able to, check in on them regularly and insist they door to the room stays open. When you pick your children up from play dates, always check in with them about their feelings. It's important to remember that sometimes children may not disclose how they feel in the presence of someone that has harmed them. They may tell you they are ok in their presence but make sure to ask again when you get home, or when you tuck them in for bed. Their safety is of paramount importance so get in the habit of checking in with them regularly. If you’re concerned about possible sexual abuse, ask questions.