I’m thinking about sexual abuse tonight. There are a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head, and I can’t pin most of them down. One I have caught and have pinned on its own thought board is this question:
which popped into my head after watching this video:
I want my kids to know it’s important to assert themselves and that it’s important to choose people in their lives who will adhere to their assertions.
It can’t be an age-into-it thing because it seems an important lesson for all ages – one that helps build trust, confidence and danger signals. But at the same time, one can’t expect a 3-year-old to regularly make wise personal decisions without guidance, interference, coaxing and persuading.
I know I’m not the first mother to bribe my kids into their clothes so we can leave by promising them a Dum Dum in the car. (Eerily similar to the Bad Man who lures kids to his van with candy.)
Do you see where I’m going with this?
Parenting is scary and hard, and it boggles my mind when I stop to think about how all the tiny decisions I make on a daily basis could potentially harm or help my kids in the future.
Like with sexual abuse.
MY big movements right now to prevent sexual abuse right now are on the fronts. First, I never force physical contact they do not want. No forced hugs or kisses of family, they decide what happens to their bodies. Always. Secondly, we are careful to call our body parts by the proper terms. It feels funny at first, but this is the only way I can assure that anytime she learns a pet name for those parts someone else is teaching them to her. And finally, we talk about how she can always talk to mommy and daddy about ANYTHING. That secrets to do apply to us, and if anyone tells her to keep a secret from her mommy and daddy is not a friend.
This is a scary world, and the very last thing I want to do is think about sexual abuse. But, as a parent, it is my job to equip my children so that they are not easy targets. And, like you, I think the parenting community should be talking about it more.
I very very very much recommend the book It’s Not the Stork! It explains sex but more importantly it talks about privates and appropriate/inappropriate touching. The age says 4-8 and I would say that’s correct.
Age 5 is really where kids start getting interested in body differences. We read this book together as a family, difficult to read (who wants to talk to their 5 year old boys about erections really??) but so so so good.
I just had a training on child sexual abuse this week. Check out Darkness to Light for resources.
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