Start Early By Establishing Body Autonomy and Privacy – Parents can build the foundation of safety from sexual abuse as early as infancy. Using the proper terms for genitals empowers children to communicate clearly about themselves and their bodies. As the child moves into toddler and preschool ages, parents can help them understand body boundaries and consent by listening to a child’s ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and reinforcing the importance of the child respecting other people’s limits as well.
Communication/Emotional Expression Skills – When children can name their emotions, and recognize emotional responses in others, it gives them the ability to express their needs, empathize with others and to listen to the signals their body gives them, especially when something or someone feels uncomfortable.
The Touching Continuum – Explain to children that there are three kinds of touches: Okay, Not Okay, and Confusing touches.
Unhealthy Secrets – Make it clear to your children that in your home, you do not keep secrets. Educate your child about the different types of secrets and why it is important to talk to a trusted adult.
Identify Trusted Adults – As kids get older, parents should help them identify the trusted adults in their lives, like other family members, teachers and school counselors. Talk to children about telling a trusted adult if someone is hurting them or doing “not okay” touches. Since initial disclosures of abuse are often dismissed or not believed, the child should understand that they should keep telling adults until someone helps them.
Know What To Do If Something Happens – If a child reports a “not ok” touch, it’s crucial to tell them that you believe them, that they did the right thing by coming to you, that they are not in trouble and that the incident was not their fault. Responding with love, compassion and acceptance is very important.
* Source: Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas
• San Antonio Police Department 911 or 210.207.7273
• Bexar County Sheriff’s Department 210.335.6000
• Child Protective Services 800.252.5400
• Children’s Hospital of San Antonio 210.704.2190
• Methodist Specialty & Transplant Hospital 210.575.8168
• ChildSafe 210.675.9000