It’s still difficult to believe that we live in a world with individuals who can physically and sexually abuse a child. Every day we can read a new story of child abuse and exploitation. We read about it, get scared and try to convince ourselves that it will never happen to our children.
According to the latest statistics, one in five girls and one in twenty boys become a victim of sexual assault on average every year. Unfortunately, many cases of child sexual abuse are not reported.
The experts at Medicine Direct Online Pharmacy state that long-term outcomes of childhood sexual abuse can be devastating – low self-esteem, distorted view of sex, difficulties in building relationships, and feeling of worthlessness that can lead to suicide.
That’s why it’s so important to talk to your child about how to recognize and prevent sexual abuse. Here are the tools that can help to protect your child:
Show respect for your child
All children should know that they deserve respect. It doesn’t mean that they can always do whatever they want. However, it means that we should validate the feelings of our little ones and take their opinions into account. For instance, you can ask them what they want to do over the weekend, even if your kid is only five years old. It will make them feel needed and important and give them a sense of self.
If you never ask your children what they think and how they feel, they will think that’s how it should be and develop low self-esteem, which abusers can use to their advantage.
It will not only help your kids to set boundaries if someone tries to get too close, but it will also teach them to respect you and other people.
Teach children about their bodies
You should explain to your children that some parts of their bodies are private, and that no one can’t touch, talk about and look at them in case it’s outside of the doctor’s office. This concept should be explained to two-years-old kids while giving them a bath, for example.
Once kids get older, you can give them more details and let them know that no one has a right to make them feel uncomfortable (including close friends of family, relatives, teachers, and peers).
Show children a difference between surprise and a secret
Some children don’t speak about sexual abuse because they were asked to keep it a secret. They can’t always see the difference between keeping a secret about an upcoming birthday party or celebration and keeping a secret about that kiss behind closed doors. That’s why every parent should explain to their kids that secrets that include looking or touching their private parts should never be kept.
Let them know that it’s ok when a doctor checks their bodies, but it also should not be a secret. If your child is getting checked, you should be in the same room during the process (at least behind the curtain).
Some children don’t feel comfortable speaking about their feelings with their parents because it wasn’t practiced in the family. It would help if you taught your child how to express their positive and negative feelings and understand what caused them. To do that, you should become an example.
For instance, instead of ignoring your child in the evening because of a long stressful day, tell your kid what you feel and why: ‘Hey, sunshine, mommy is tired and sad today because she was late to work and then her colleague was rude to her. That’s why I don’t really feel like playing with you right now. Can we play tomorrow?’
Also, encourage your child to identify and describe their feelings. It will help you to build and keep trust with your children so that if something bad happens to them, they will let you know.
Show children that they have control over their bodies
If you want your child to have autonomy over their body and personal space, start asking them for permission. For example, before you want to fix their hair or collar, you should ask for their permission first. These little dialogues between you and your kid will help to send the right message (‘I’m an empowered individual’).
In case your kids meet a predator, they will be able to see the difference and walk away before it’s too late.
Empower children to say NO
Your children should know that their opinions matter and that they can always say no. Another important thing is to encourage emotional honesty in your kids. The problem is that a lot of sexually abused kids keep their abuse in secret because they are afraid that no one will believe them. That’s why you should let them know that no matter what happens, you will always be on their side.