How to Prevent Your Kids from Being Sexually Abused


sexually abused

My husband and I take this topic very seriously. As a therapist, I have heard countless stories about inappropriate touch and people being sexually abused. My husband’s former career was in law enforcement and involved investigating these types of crimes. We are also foster parents, which means we may care for kids who’ve been victimized in this horrible way. So body safety and sexual abuse prevention is an important topic in our house!

We live in a world where child sexual abuse is real, common, and all around us. So it is important to educate our kids in appropriate ways for the sake of prevention. {Tweet This} You can do that through having regular body safety talks with your kids.

Here are some tips to remember when you have these talks with your kids!

Don’t make it uncomfortable

Your kids will pick up on your discomfort. Remember that you want to be the controller of this information FIRST with your kids. You get to lay the foundation of how they understand body awareness, which lays their framework for sex in the future. It’s time to work through your discomfort and see the bigger picture. To help you feel more comfortable, you can also loop these talks in with other  ‘body safety’ talks like why it’s important to wear a bike helmet and look both ways when we cross the street.

Take advantage of common opportunities

We started body safety talks when our kids were really little. When they were in the bathtub we taught our kids about their private parts and public parts. Private parts are covered by swimsuits and public parts aren’t. We also taught them the correct names for all their parts: shoulders, nose, penis or vagina, toes, belly, etc. Teaching them the real names for their private parts is a great way for them to not get confused and consistently understand which parts are private. This is also a good time to help kids understand why private parts belong just to them.

Then we would talk about the reasons it would ever be ok for someone to touch or see their private parts. For example, “When mommy or daddy are helping clean you in the bathtub, or when someone is helping wipe you after you’ve gone potty. Also, if you have a boo-boo and Mommy, Daddy, or the doctor need to make sure everything is ok.”

Give them examples

As hard as it might be, it is good to give them a couple negative examples so they know what someone could possibly do. We often say something like, “if someone ever wanted to play a game with your private parts, what would you do?” This helps them know it might not be someone just trying to hurt them, but they might make it seem harmless and fun to trick them.

Assure them it’s okay to tell you

We always let our kids know that if something ever happened that they would never get in trouble and that it’s ok to tell us so we can help them. Giving this message will often contradict a perpetrator’s message that they will be in trouble if they tell.

Empower them

One of the phrases we commonly say in our house is, “It’s your body” or “You’re in charge of your body”. This helps a child feel like they have a say-so about how to use their body and that they have control over it.

Don’t send mixed messages

Some parents don’t realize they are confusing their kids. They may do a great job telling their kids about inappropriate touch, but then they put them in a situation where their child feels forced to ‘share her body’ in a way that feels uncomfortable. Maybe hugging Aunt Sharron doesn’t feel okay to her. Maybe she would rather give a high-five or just wave goodbye. Let your kids decide how they want to share their body with others in order to send a consistent message.

Use resources

There are many good books to read to little kids to reinforce your body safety talks. Some of my favorites are: It’s MY Body: A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch by Lory Britain and The Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse by Sandy Kleven. There are so many to choose from, so pick one that works best for your child.

Remember it opens the door

We talk to our kids about these types of issues regularly. By making it a normal thing in our family, it creates an open door for them to come to us down the road to ask questions about sex or disclose something that made them uncomfortable. If you are close to discussing sex with your kids, here are 5 questions to help.

I hate that we even have to think about talking to our kids about these things, but education can help with prevention. As parents, we can’t sit back and expect someone else to teach our kids these life-changing lessons. Here are some other life lessons to teach your kids while you’re at it!

When you have had body safety talks with your kids, how did it go?

Comments


  • Rachael O

    This is very good information! Thank you so much! Something I would like to add to what you said about “It’s your body”. Kids definitely need to know that they are in control of their own bodies. I have a 9 year old son and he loves when I tickle him. In the past when he would say “stop”, I’d keep going because I felt he was just playing, which in most cases he was but then I realized that even though we are playing, when he says “stop” I needed to give him that respect and also let him no the power of the word “STOP”. I want him to know that when he is in an uncomfortable situation, he needs to use the authority that he has to stop the situation from progressing. I hope this makes sense :o)

    • Aimee Robison

      This is helpful information please don’t take it as a foolproof plan for your keeping your son safe

    • This is a great example. Thanks for sharing, Rachel!

    • Renewed Horizon

      Thank you for sharing this example Rachael! We have that rule in our home too! Stop means stop and we want our kids to be empowered to set boundaries in a healthy way. What better place for them to practice than at home 🙂
      -Teri Claassen

  • Aimee Robison

    I am offended by the title!
    There is absolutely no way possible to “PREVENT” your child from being sexually abused!!! As a parent to 10-year-old twin boys I have gone over every step in this article with my boys since they were old enough to understand. It’s been an open discussion at all times and they have constantly been reminded that there’s no shame in talking about this and learning about sexuality from your mom.

    I took every ounce of prevention.
    One of my sons is in intensive counseling right now for being heinously sexually abused while at my exes house by his “step-brother”!!
    There is no surefire, 100% prevention method that is going to save a child. To give false hope to a naïve parent is wreckless and unacceptable!!!
    Please add the word’s “assist” or “help” to the title!!
    I would give anything in the world to have prevented what happened to my son. Despite every effort in the end I could not save my son!!!!
    No child is 100% safe please don’t send a message that we as parents can change that.

    • Hi Aimee, thanks for your feedback. We are so sorry to hear that this happened to your son, and we are praying for healing for all of you. This article isn’t meant to be a foolproof plan–we’ll look into adding “help” to the title…

      • Aimee Robison

        Thank you !!! My response was a little inappropriate I apologize just such a terrible place for my son right now. I reacted from pure emotion! I love every other article from you and found a lot of insight thru family first!!

    • Renewed Horizon

      Hi Amiee- Thank you for sharing. My heart aches at the horror your family is going through. I hate that this is a reality in our world. Please know this article was not intended to cause pain. We want parents to take steps to help their children from being in this horrible situation. I pray for your family as you walk on this painful journey.
      -Teri Claassen