Estimates are that 1 out of every 3 female children and 1 out of every 5 male children will be sexually abused before reaching 18 years of age. In an effort to protect our children, we have told them to beware of strangers, but in 70-80% of the reported sexual abuse cases, children were sexually abused by someone they knew. The offenders were friends or family members.
Offenders look for vulnerable victims. Since we teach our children to trust and obey adults, they are very vulnerable. It is as important for a child to know how to prevent sexual abuse as it is to look both ways before crossing a street. We must talk to our children about sexual abuse. This can begin with children as young as two years old.
Here are Some Guidelines
Note: The situation and those involved often determines what is good or bad touch. The following are some general examples of kinds of touching.
Good Touch Bad Touch Confusing Touch holding hands hitting pinching playing tag pushing wrestling snuggling trapping holds squeezing hugging biting kissing someone you don't want to kiss kissing shoving tickling until it hurts any touch that you like and want any touch that you don't want holding when you don't want to be held
Help your child with some ''NO'' answers:
Help your child identify who they can tell if someone touches them in a bad or confusing way and you are unavailable. Tell them if that person does not believe them, tell someone else.
WHAT IF: Someone was following you after school? What could you do? Whom could you tell?
WHAT IF: Your friend's older brother was always touching you when you did not want him to? What could you do? Whom could you tell?
WHAT IF: A relative touched your private body parts when they thought you were asleep? What could you do? Whom could you tell?
If a parent overreacts or becomes angry, the child may feel guilty or blamed. If you ignore what the child is saying, s/he may feel that it is o.k. for the sexual abuse to continue.
Children seldom lie about being sexually abused. It is not a child's fault if s/he is sexually abused. A victim of child sexual abuse needs support, understanding and love. An offender needs to be reported and stopped so that other children are not hurt by the crime.
You and your child may need some additional support in dealing with the effects of this crime. For more information and counseling, call one of the following:
(This section adapted from A Prevention Guide for Parents, Child Sexual Abuse, Planned Parenthood of Rochester.)