Some advocates believe it is solely an adult’s responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse. While I totally agree that adults must:
- Educate the child in their care in Body Safety Education
- Become educated themselves in:
- grooming techniques used by perpetrators
- statistics on child sexual abuse
- the signs that a child is being sexually abused
- what to do if a child discloses
- Believe a child when they disclose
- Educate the wider community in the importance of protecting children from sexual abuse
- Let friends, family and those who come in contact with their child know that their child is educated in Body Safety and to respect their boundaries…
…I also believe that by educating your child in Body Safety you are reducing the risk of them becoming a target of sexual abuse, i.e. as an empowered child who knows not to keep secrets and has been educated to tell, in all probability, is less likely to be targeted by an abuser who relies heavily on a child to keep ‘the secret’.
In my opinion, a child who knows:
- The correct anatomical names for their private parts and is comfortable using those terms
- That their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it
- Not to keep secrets that make them feel bad and uncomfortable
- The names of five adults that they trust and can tell anything to
- If some-one does touch their private parts or touches their body in a way that makes them feel unsafe, they can yell out ‘Stop!’ or ‘No!’ and immediately tell a trusted adult and keep on telling until they are believed…
… is indeed an empowered child. Let’s be honest. Our children cannot be with us 24/7. Fact. They will go on camps, they will be invited to sleepovers and they will visit family and friend’s homes. 95% of children who are sexually abused know their perpetrator (Child Protection Council, 1993). They can be groomed and abused right under an unaware and uneducated adult’s nose.
I do understand that very young children find it incredibly difficult to say, ‘No’ to an adult or older child. I do get that. And in fact, in an ideal world they should never have that responsibility. And we, as adults need to be vigilant to the grooming techniques of perpetrators. But as your child becomes older, they will leave the safety of your nest and, sadly, they may have to implement the Body Safety Education they have been taught from a young age. One hopes they never have too, but look at it this way, isn’t it better they wear a safety belt rather than rely on an adult driving the car slowly and carefully. A safety belt is there just in case.
Therefore, yes… it is an adult’s responsibly to educate a child in Body Safety and to educate themselves, but it is also in the child’s best interest to arm them with crucial Body Safety knowledge just in case we are not there to protect them… as I always say …Forewarned is forearmed!
Jayneen Sanders (aka Jay Dale) is a teacher, author, mother of three daughters and an active advocate for sexual abuse prevention education both in the home and in schools.
For more information on this topic and Jay’s children’s book on safe and unsafe touch ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ and her new book ‘Body Safety Education — A parents’ guide to protecting kids from sexual abuse’ go to www.somesecrets.info
‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ now available on Amazon in 7 seven languages.
‘Body Safety Education — A parents’ guide to protecting kids from sexual abuse’ is now available at: http://somesecrets.info/buy-body-safety-education/