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When teaching kids about others’ behavior towards them

When teaching kids about others’ behavior towards them …

Use concrete examples

Remember that in as many as 90% of situations where a child is sexually harmed, the child (and often their family) knows the adult, youth or child who is acting in a sexually inappropriate way. When talking with kids about child sexual abuse, use examples and situations that make that reality clear. (For example, “What if you are at a friend’s house and her older brother asks you to play a game that makes you feel weird or uncomfortable or involves something like touching or taking off your clothes?” “Sometimes relatives, like grandparents or uncles or cousins, don’t understand the rules and touch kids in ways they’re not supposed to. If that ever happens, be sure to tell Mom or Dad or another adult you trust so that we can help that person learn the rules.”)

Model healthy boundariesi

Sometimes we unintentionally confuse kids by insisting they hug Grandma even when they don’t want to, or by saying, “Do whatever the babysitter tells you to do.” Help your children practice setting healthy boundariesi. When children tell us they don’t want to hug and kiss everyone at a family gathering, support them by helping them find another way to show respect to family members (such as shaking hands, high fives, saying goodbye). Model saying “no” and assure your children that their “no” will be respected. If others disrespect or ignore your child’s limits, it’s your job to explain your family rules and insist on your child’s rights to set boundariesi.

Talk about touch

When talking with children about touch, remember that sexual touch can be very confusing. In a strictly physical sense, sexual touch can feel good and for a victim of sexual abuse, this can create more shame and confusion about the situation. “If my body responded this way, this must mean that I liked it and wanted it to happen.” Many families prefer to talk about “secret” touch or touch that makes a child uncomfortable. “It is not OK for anyone to touch you in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable—not Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, teachers or even your friends. Your body is yours and yours alone and you always have a right to say no to someone.”

Explain about tricks

Some people who sexually abuse children use tricks or bribes to keep kids from telling. The abusive person might promise a gift or allow a forbidden privilege; or they might tell the child that it is their fault or that no one will believe them, or that if the child tells anyone they will hurt their family or pet, etc. Explain these tricks to your children and reassure them that you can handle the situation, even if they didn’t object to the sexual interaction at the time. “As your parent, aunt, guardian, I will always be here to keep you safe and will always believe you and love you.” “If someone touches you in an uncomfortable way it is never your fault.” “They just tell you that to trick you.”

Involve other adults

Children need to know that there are other adults in whom they can confide. Sometimes children are afraid that they will “get in trouble” if they tell their parents about something that happened. This fear can be reinforced by the person who is harming them. Help your children to realize that there are other adults who can help them if they don’t want to talk to Mom or Dad or if Mom or Dad is doing something that concerns them. Ask “If you don’t feel comfortable talking to me about something, who else can you talk to?” or “What if something happens at school, church, the park, who could you talk to?”

Be approachable

By initiating conversations about healthy sexual boundariesi, by answering questions accurately and respectfully, by handling disclosures calmly and reassuringly, you send the message that you are someone your child (or other children you care about) can talk to even when something has already happened.

This article was excerpted from http://www.stopitnow.org/talking_to_kids

#prevention #sexualabuse #youth

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