Teaching Age-Appropriate Child Sexual Abuse Prevention
It’s unbearable to think that anyone would sexually abuse a child, but, sadly, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will become victims of abuse before their 18th birthdays. Arming our kids with tools to keep them safe dramatically changes these statistics and can make a life-saving difference in child sexual abuse prevention. Check out these 5 tips to help your child identify “safe” and “unsafe” situations, people and secrets, and listen to their “guiding voice.”
5 Safety Tips Every Child Should Know by Age 5
- Help kids identify Grown-Up Buddies, people who are old enough to drive who help a child to be safe in any situation. A Grown-Up Buddy is someone your child can confide in whenever they feel uncomfortable or confused – whether it’s a fight with a friend, a bad dream, or a touch that’s not quite right. And at least one Grown-Up Buddy should be someone outside of your family.
- It’s important to help children understand that the area around their body is their own personal space and that no one should violate their body boundaries. Ask your child to stand up, stretch their arms horizontally and imagine there is a big bubble that starts over their head and reaches to the bottom of their feet; these are the boundaries for their personal space.
- Explain the difference between safe and unsafe touches. A safe touch respects personal boundaries and feels welcomed (hive-five, fist bumps, or hugs – when your child feels comfortable to give them). Safe touches make your child feel happy and loved. An unsafe touch is any kind of touch that makes your child feel icky, scared, hurt, or confused. Unsafe touches, like body boundary violations, should be reported to a Grown-Up Buddy immediately!
- The same can be said for secrets: safe secrets are those that make your child feel happy, safe, and excited; unsafe secrets make your child feel uncomfortable, confused, sad, or not quite right. If an adult asks a child to keep a secret that can never be told, it is an unsafe secret. (Things like surprise parties or the gender of a baby are examples of safe secrets an adult may tell a child – that will eventually be told to everyone, and will make people feel happy or excited.) If your child is asked to keep an unsafe secret, they should go to a Grown-Up Buddy right away.
- Empower your child to use their “I Mean Business Voice” any time they need to be heard in an uncomfortable situation. Children who are comfortable accessing this voice will respond in a strong authoritative manner to prevent the situation from continuing.
Remember, conversations about child sexual abuse prevention don’t have to be scary! For more free tips, tools, safety lessons, and other child sexual abuse prevention strategies for families with school-aged children, visit SaferSmarterFamilies.org.