Despite the stereotypes of a stranger in a trench coat hanging around the playground, the sex offender is most likely someone the child knows and trusts. Sexual abusers are fathers, mothers, stepparents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, neighbors, babysitters, coaches, and spiritual leaders.
Education is the best defense against child sexual assault. An educated child has the ability to recognize dangerous/uncomfortable situations and will be more likely to tell you if abuse has occurred.1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before age 18, states the brochure. If so, this can change. If we as parents and educators ensure positive and comprehensive sex education, we can make a difference.
In order to protect children, teach them:
- to feel good about themselves [and not ashamed!]
- the difference between safe and unsafe touches [meaning we also have to teach children about pleasure and that they have the right to say yes to that which feels safe and good to them, but not to that which does not feel safe and good]
- that their bodies belong to them and no one has a right to hurt them
- that safety rules apply to all adults, not just strangers
- that the can say "no" to requests that make them feel uncomfortable
- to report to you if any adult asks them to keep a secret
- that they can rely on you to believe and protect them
- that they are not to blame for sexual abuse [i.e. don't place the burden and blame on the child]