How can you keep your child safe from sexual abuse?

Stranger Danger education is a good place to start, however, most children that are abused are abused by someone they know. A family member or friend of the family, a neighbour, someone in an organisation they attend.
What do your children need to know about keeping safe?
1. No Secrets: Teach your child that in your family there are no secrets. If anyone ever asks your child to keep a secret they must promise to tell you or another adult you trust. Sadly some parents and step parents abuse their own children, this is why it is vitally important that you as a mum or dad builds up trust with your child so that they feel safe telling you everything. Secrets with threats of something bad happening if you tell anyone are tools frequently used by abusers. Children don’t want bad things to happen to their families and are easily frightened into ‘keeping secrets to keep their families safe’. They have to know they can tell you everything, that you will believe them and take action to keep them safe.
2. Safe Touch: children should be taught about safe touch, i.e. places where it’s O.K. for other children or adults to touch them. Arms and shoulders, legs below the knees, back above the waist. Teach them to say NO to any other touch unless it’s a cuddle from family and friends that you trust.
3. Clothes On: adults, other than medical staff or carers should not be requesting children to remove their clothes. Teach your children that their clothes stay on unless they are at home or at the doctor’s, otherwise they only come off to their underwear to get changed for games or at bedtime.
4. Boys and Girls: sometimes boys and girls are interested to know what each other’s ‘bits’ look like. In young children this is normal curiosity and probably won’t be an issue when a child has brothers or sisters and shares a bedroom.
Your child needs to know that older children should not be asking them to take their clothes off or let them see or touch their genital area. Sadly children that are abused will frequently become abusers themselves.
There are several good books available that will help you explain the differences between boys and girls, choose a book that is appropriate for the age and stage of your child.
5. Private Parts: teach your children about private parts, i.e. the parts of the body covered by their underwear are ‘private parts’ and they need to keep them private.
Developing a loving, safe, trusting relationship with your children is the greatest gift you can give them. Listening is the second greatest gift.
Take time to really listen to your child, too often we dismiss what they are saying, or we are too busy, or we tell them later – at least find out what it is they want to talk about before you put them off until later.
Let your children know that you trust them and believe what they have to say.
Often children try to tell their mothers about abuse by their fathers, step-fathers, uncles, friends – and their mother says they are lying, it can’t be true – you may not want to believe it, but at least protect your child from the risk while you talk and listen some more – do not dismiss or ridicule them.
Some women sexually abuse children, yes, it does happen. Be aware, if a child close to you tells you that he or she is worried about time alone with a parent, or doesn’t want to go in the car alone with a parent, pay attention. Find out what is going on.
I realise this is a very sensitive topic, you can’t be with your children 24/7 neither should you be, but you can educate them without frightening them.
Remember: No Secrets, Safe Touch, Clothes On, Boys and Girls, Private Parts.
If you are a teacher, neighbour, friend, relative or other adult that suspects a child is being abused in anyway – speak up. Contact your local Child, Youth and Family Team they will listen to you in confidence.



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