It’s horrifying to think a child could be a victim of sexual abuse, but according to the American Association of Pediatrics, one in three girls and one in 20 boys will experience sexual abuse or sexual assault by the time they reach age 17.
The AAP says kids who feel they are the boss of their own bodies are less likely to be sexually abused, and they’re more likely to report anything concerning to a trusted adult.
So how do you teach young ones about body safety and boundaries? Start with using proper terms for body parts.
“So instead of nicknames, actually say the words of genitals such as penis, vagina, vulva and buttocks. This way, kids know that that is a private part and it’s inappropriate for someone other than maybe a parent or a physician to see or ask about that,” said Dr. Alok Patel.
Go over the difference between ok versus not-ok touches.
“If their children do or see something that is inappropriate, that parents reinforce that and say, hey, that type of touching is not okay,” said Patel.
Dont force affection.
“And at first this might be a little difficult for parents, but children should also be able to live in their own comfort zone and not be forced to hug or kiss anyone, even relatives. If children don’t feel comfortable being in close physical presence of someone else. That’s okay. And parents and caretakers should respect that,” said Patel.
Explain the concept of consent.
“In popular media, we often think of consent as referring to sexual interactions. But it’s broader than that. Consent also involves playful touching, hugs, kisses, grabbing, even if it’s not meant to be something sexual at all.”
And encourage questions.
“It’s important for all of us to regularly talk to children about all these topics and to have an open ear and let them know that they can come to you with any questions or comments.”