A: First – thank you for recognizing that teaching your child about their body safety is important. This is such an important question that we get asked often.
Many years ago a mom/police woman attended a KidSafe seminar. She told us that she always told her daughter “Never let anyone touch your privates.” She felt as a parent that she had covered the topic to keep her child safe from sexual abuse.
One day her daughter, at age 9, came to her and told her that a family member has been touching her privates and that they had been doing it for a long time. The mom asked the daughter why she didn’t tell sooner. The reason was simple from a child’s point of view. She was afraid her mother would be mad at her for ‘letting someone touch her privates.’ The child was afraid she would get in trouble. (Remember, sexual abuse is NEVER a child’s fault.)
Understand that predators, especially ones we know and trust, are savvy and trick children and teens into sexual abuse. They make the child feel it is their fault.
So what should we teach our children?
Say to your child early and often as part of everyday parenting:
Your body is special and belongs to you. If you ever get a touch that makes you feel confused, uncomfortable or scared you come and tell me about it. You will not be in trouble.
Teach your children the proper names for their private parts. Explain that their private parts are just that private. That no one should be touching their private parts. (Read the book My Body is Special and Belongs To Me.) If someone does touch their privates that they should come directly to you or another person in their Circle of Safe Adults and tell them what happened.