How To keep Children Safe From Sexual Abuse

Teaching children personal safety and about body ownership.

A child is never too young to learn that NO means NO.

CONCEPTS AND BODY RULES

Body Ownership

My body belongs to me!

• Teach children that they have control over their body. They have the right to say NO to any unwanted touch. For example, they can chose if they want a hug from grandma, if they want tickling to stop or how they play with their peers.
• Demonstrate how to be assertive when they say NO.

Private Body Parts

Some parts of my body are private.

• Teach children that everyone has parts of their body that are private. They are the parts covered by underwear.

Limit Opportunities For Grooming

• Make sure you know who your children are spending time with.
• Teach children to always get permission before going anywhere with anyone or accepting sweets, gifts, etc. Ensure they know that this also applies to offers from people they know and trust.

Recognise Potentially Dangerous Situations

• Understand that identifying inappropriate touch can be very confusing for children because not all safe touch feels good and not all unsafe touch feels bad. Child protection expert Freda Briggs refers to ‘rude touching’ and ‘wrong touching’. Other experts use phrases such as ‘ok’ and ‘not ok’ touch or safe/unsafe/unwanted touch.

THE UNSAFE BEHAVIOUR RULE

Begin by teaching children the Unsafe Behaviour Rule: “A bigger person should not touch my private body parts except to keep me clean and healthy.”

Then expand the rule and teach:
• Say NO to touching another person’s private body parts.
• Say NO to looking at pictures of people not wearing clothes.
• Say NO to taking your own clothes off for a photo.

Explain to children that some touch may be confusing, and teach them how to label feelings, for example, happy, sad or scared. This will help them identify wrong touching.

Resisting Wrong Touch

Teach children: Say NO, then GET AWAY, then TELL SOMEONE.

• Explain they should resist wrong touching, even if it is from someone they know and trust.
• Expand the rule and tell them they should also resist confusing touch.
• Teach children they should always tell an adult if someone touches or tries to touch them inappropriately.
• Make a list of safe adults a child can tell. Teach them to speak to other adults on the list if the first adult they speak to does not take notice.

Resisting Keeping Secrets

Teach children: Don’t keep secrets about unsafe behaviour.

• Explain the difference between a secret and a surprise. Surprises are fun and the child is encouraged to tell them when the time is right. Secrets make a child feel sad, unhappy and scared. Often the child is told never to tell and sometimes be bribed, threatened, blackmailed, or coerced into remaining silent.

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