There are many ways for a sexual predator to victimize and sexually abuse a child. Inappropriate touching, the viewing of pornography, and lewd language that is used in comments towards children are examples of ways a child can be sexually abused.
There are some parents who live in denial and may not even consider sexual abuse to be abuse unless their child is raped. There are also some parents who could never believe that Uncle Mike would ever abuse their children, even though it is happening right under their noses. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is happening in the schools, churches, foster care homes, and many other places.
Inappropriate touching of a child can have the same devastating effects that rape has. Teaching children the difference between good touch and bad touch is important to help a child avoid being sexually abused.
Good touch is healthy for a child and is presented in the following ways:
- Pat on the back or shoulder
- Friendly hugs
- Pat on the head
- Kiss on the cheek or forehead
- Shaking hands or giving ‘high fives’
Bad touch is characterized in the following ways:
- Touching of the sexual parts of the body
- Patting or rubbing of the upper thigh near the groin area
- Touching or patting the buttocks
- Kissing mouth to mouth
It is important to understand the most sexual predators will not just come out and molest children the first time they are around them. Sexual predators will usually ‘groom’ a child before they sexually abuse them. When they start having physical contact with the child, it may start with good touch in order to get the child to trust them.
There are several ways to teach your children about good touch and bad touch, which include:
- Encourage your children to listen to their gut instinct. If someone is touching them or doing something to make them feel uncomfortable, then they should listen to their feelings and remove themselves from the situation.
- Teach your children the correct names of body parts. There is no age requirement for this action and should be done when the children are old enough to talk and are showing curiosity about body parts. Don’t just teach your children the basics, avoiding the sexual organs. Teach them what a penis or vagina is and use proper anatomical terms, because if you wait until they are older, they will become self-conscious about having to learn them.
- Children should be taught that their bodies belong to them. No one should endure being touched if they don’t want to be. Children need to know that they own their bodies, and they have the right to ask people not to touch them.
- No means no. Teach your children to be assertive and direct. Let them know there is nothing wrong with telling someone NO if they try to touch them.
- Role play with your children. Practicing scenarios with your children will help your children know what to do if they are in a situation where a sexual predator tries to sexually abuse them.
- Explain the bathing suit example to your children. This example is a good way to explain bad touch to your children. If someone is touching them in places where a bathing suit covers them, then that is bad touch.
With the proper tools in place, it is possible to keep your children safe from sexual abuse. Education is the key to preventing abuse. The more you talk about sexuality and body parts with your children, the easier it is for them to feel more comfortable talking about the subject. If children can be more comfortable talking about sexuality, it will be easier for them to talk to you if they are having issues with someone who might be trying to victimize them.