By: Roshanda Pratt
April is Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Last month, I shared with you why we cannot remain silent about this issue any longer. Did you know that according to experts, ONLY 1 out of 10 sexually abused children will come forward and tell someone about it? This means that even your well-meaning child whom you already had a discussion with about safe and unsafe touch, might not speak to you if they become a victim of sexual assault.
As a mother of three young children, I am always rehearsing and talking with them about stranger danger, as well as the danger that could happen with the very people they know. A scary thought, I know, but we cannot live in fear; we MUST be proactive. Rosalyn Moses, Executive Director of the Family Resource Center trains and equips teachers, counselors, parents and children on this topic. She says we must first begin by talking to our children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms. Ms. Moses says by doing so, it teaches children that it is okay to talk to you when they have questions.
Here is how the conversation should go:
Teach children the names of their body parts, not nick names, so they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
- Teach children that some parts of their bodies are private.
- Let them know people should not be touching or looking at their private parts unless they need to touch them to provide care.
- If someone does need to touch them in those private areas, a parent or trusted caregiver should be there too.
- Tell children that if someone tried to touch those private areas or wants to look at them, or if someone tries to show the child their own private parts, they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
- ALL children should be told that it’s okay to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable or if someone is touching them in ways that make them uncomfortable that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible.
- Don’t try to put all this information into one big “talk” about sex.
- Be interested in your child’s activities by asking questions about their day.
- Talk about the media, especially if your child watches a lot of television or plays video games. Use these opportunities to start up conversations about sexuality and sexual abuse.
- Know the other adults that your child may talk to.
- Be available, spend time with your child and let them know they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Ms. Moses also adds, “When you empower your child to say ‘NO’ to unwanted touch and teach them that they can come to you with questions and concerns, you take critical steps to preventing child sexual abuse.”
As parents, the best we can ever do for our children is prepare them. While I would hope that no child would ever have to deal with the trauma of sexual violence, it is still a dark reality. However, if we take the time to shed light on it now, we can eventually eradicate this epidemic from our community.
Want to know more? All of the statewide Child Advocacy Centers are available for training. You can locate a local CAC by visiting www.scmcac.org. If you are a victim or need to find a rape crisis center, you can find one your area by going to www.sccadvasa.org.