Statistics tell us one in four children will experience sexual abuse by the age of eighteen. 90% of abuse is by someone they know and trust, & 82% do not tell anyone. So how do we help our children to stay safe? Award-winning blogger Tric from My Thoughts on a Page shares her 10 Tips to Help Keep Kids Safe from Abuse.
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1. Body Part Language
From an early age ensure children know the correct language for body parts.You can continue to call them a nickname but if you are uncomfortable with the words penis, vagina, breasts, etc, so too will your child be. If anyone does subsequently touch your child or speak to them inappropriately, it will be more difficult for them to speak about it.
2. Talk About Feelings
Talk to children, even as young as three, about feelings. What feels good, hugging, kissing, tickling.
Encourage them to own these feelings, so that if they do not wish to be hugged, kissed or tickled, that is okay. No one should be allowed to do anything to them they do not wish or feel like, even parents, grandparents other family and friends.
3. Speak About Private Parts Of Body
Speak to your children about what parts of their body are private. Who should be able to see their private parts.
Make sure you help them to understand that because parts are private does not mean they should be embarrassed or ashamed by those parts. Try to speak of their private parts in a normal voice, not dropping your tone or whispering!
4. Explain Secret Types
Children need to understand the difference between a good and bad secret. If they are told by a person they trust “Do not tell,” the chances are they will not. It is better to have a general rule that you do not tell your child a secret.
Speak to them about having a secret and whether they think it would be a good or bad one. Use examples, birthday present, breaking something, witnessing bullying etc. What do they think is a bad secret? Could they tell you? How would they tell you? What could they do if you did not really listen to them? What if someone threatened them if they told or called them a snitch?
5. Stranger Danger
Speak to your children about “stranger danger”. But be mindful of the fact that this relates to the internet also. A stranger is anyone they have not met. Here are tips for parents on teaching “Stranger Danger” to kids.
Revisit this chat when your child gets older and begins to use the computer or has internet on their phone.
WATCH : Be Share Aware Internet Safety for Kids & Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe Online : 11 sites & apps to be aware of
6. Revisit Past Chats as Your Child Grows
As your child gets older revisit past chats. Remind them that they own their own body.
Speak with them about the possibility of pressure being put on them to do things they may not be comfortable with. This pressure may be from a boy or girlfriend, or by others in a group. Talk about the danger of drinking, and the link between intoxication and becoming less inhibited.
7. Who Your Child Spends Time With
Be very mindful of who your child is spending time with. Older children are likely to be abused by other older children who are still under the age of 18. It is not only adults who abuse.
8. Explain How They Can Get Your Attention
Have a plan in place for if ever they need to get your attention to talk with you. We all get busy and finding time to really listen gets harder and harder as our children grow up. Maybe it is a note on your pillow. Perhaps it is a key sentence agreed years before, “Mom I need to tell you something, please listen to me”.
9. You Must Listen
If your child tells you something you must listen. Maybe you find it hard to believe, or you feel your child is a drama queen. You still must listen and properly investigate whatever you were told before you decide to believe it or not.
10. Try To Stay Calm
If your child discloses abuse try to stay calm. If they are talking about abuse happening to another child, listen and seek advice from the appropriate child protection agencies.
If your child is telling you it has happened to them, sit and listen quietly. This is a huge moment for your child. It will change your lives forever, but at last your child will not be carrying their secret alone.
Again go to the appropriate agencies but do not rush. Your child needs you to be there for them. Listen and in time you may get full disclosure, because what they tell you initially may only be the tip of the iceberg.
This post is by award-winning Blogger Tric Kearney, a stay at home Mum from Ireland. Tric loves life and all it brings, and has passion for writing(among other things), on her blog My Thoughts on a Page. You can also follow Tric on Facebook and Twitter.
You may also find this useful – For the Fridge : 10 Tips for Practical Internet Safety for Kids
Over to you! Any further tips you might have to keep your child safe from abuse?