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How to Prevent Your Kids from Being Sexually Abused

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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. 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?

Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.


Who can you talk to if something bad happens?

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