Sexual Abuse: Talking to Your Kids About It.
Sexual Abuse, thankfully, is now out in the open and is something you'll want to talk about with your kids. The major reasons to talk frankly about sexual abuse is to emphasize to your children their right to the privacy of their bodies and selves. Children need confidence to take action against their abusers. They need assurance that there are adults who they can trust to believe in them. When children are seen as having less than full rights, they are often seen as objects to be manipulated by the whims of adults.
Teach your children to refuse to act in the role of an object by allowing them to say NO to adults.
Unwilling children should not be forced to express feelings of physical affection toward adults. To force a child to "Give uncle Charlie a kiss." leaves the message that the needs of the adult are more important than the needs of the child.
Do talk to your child about not talking to strangers. Even though the vast majority of sexual abuse is from someone they know and trust, it is always good to alert children to the dangers of predators.
Help your child find a secret password that can be used when somebody other than a parent picks him/her up or wants the child to go with them. It can be the name of a pet, or some other word the child knows and won't forget.
Try not to frighten your child so that he or she sees the world as a dangerous place, but do try to convey in a calming way that not everybody will be good to her or him.
As soon as your child can talk about his or her body...."Find your nose, find your ear....", talk to your child about private areas and "good touch, bad touch".
Remember, it is never "too early" to talk about things that threaten your child. If they are too young to understand, you have planted a seed that you can build on as they develop.
Involve yourself and your child in any community or school programs that deal with sexual abuse. Talk with your child before and after such programs.
You may opt to buy a book for your child that deals with sexual abuse. This allows the child the explore the subject on his or her own terms at an age-appropriate understanding level.
Convey to the child that sexual abuse is not always physically harmful. Try to convey that abuse often evolves over time, and the abuser can be somebody they like.
Let the child know that they can come to you anytime they feel uncomfortable about anything. Sexual abuse would be one thing, among many, they can talk to you about.
If your child does come to you about an incident or incidents of abuse, try not to be overly dramatic and angry. A child can misinterpret this as a negative reaction toward them.
From the start, calmly reassure your child that whatever happened is not their fault.
Tell your child that you will take care of things and that they shouldn't worry about the perpetrator.