Protecting Kids from Sexual Advances: Fifteen Do's and Don'ts
By Thomas Haller
| How does a parent protect their child from the sexual advances of a predator who could be almost anyone from a trusted family member to coach, educator, or clergy? Following are some do's and don'ts designed to help you help your children handle inappropriate sexual advances.|
One final comment: Do believe your children if they tell you about sexual abuse. Children hardly ever lie about this. Hardly ever. Please believe them.
- Do expand your conversations on this topic to include everyone. Yes, some family members attempt to have sex with their sibling or cousin. So do a small representation of all parts of society. Be inclusive.
- Do not make this a one-time-only conversation. It could begin with young children while you are assisting with a bath. It can be readdressed intermittently as they grow older, ending in conversations prompted by news reports of sexual misconduct. Return to this topic throughout the ages and stages of your child's growth.
- Do manage your own anxiety during these conversations. Some parents get nervous when discussing sexual topics. Be casual. The goal here is not to scare your children, but to give them vital information.
- Do use the correct names of body parts. It is a penis, not a wee wee. Call it a vagina rather than referring to it as "down there."
- Do teach your children that no one can invade their space without their permission. This could begin when children are toddlers and Aunt Berta wants to give them a big kiss. If they don't want to, they don't have to. They don't have to sit on someone's lap. They do not have to hold hands unless it is a safety issue. They control their space and they control their bodies.
- Do help them learn to tell Grandma they don't want to sit on her lap in a polite way. Give them the words to use if necessary. Have them practice saying the words.
- Do not teach them to say NO without saying more, "I don’t like it when you touch me like that," "I did NOT give you permission to touch me." Again, practice.
- Do teach them to check it out inside. If it feels uncomfortable, get out of there. If it feels dangerous, RUN.
- Do teach children that with sexual issues, safety overrides politeness. They can be polite later if necessary. Go with what feels safe now.
- When children honor their feelings by announcing that someone is in their space or by leaving the room because they are uncomfortable with someone present, stick up for them. Support their actions with words and actions of your own if needed.
- Do not make this about fear or danger. Keep the focus on healthy living. Help your children appreciate that these are skills needed to keep themselves healthy.
- Do not teach your children to tell another adult first. The scout master, the priest, the playground supervisor, the coach may try to talk them out of it. They may not know how to respond appropriately to feelings involving issues of this magnitude.
- Do teach them to come directly to you if someone touches them or talks to them inappropriately.
- Teach them the number one clue that danger is present. That important clue is these words: "Don't tell your mom or dad. This is our secret." If they hear those words, it is time to tell NOW!
- Do teach the one exception to the suggestion above: Don't tell if it's a NICE surprise. Gifts and presents can be secrets.
|Talking about sexuality is a crucial part of a child’s development. Children will learn about sex and sexuality whether you talk openly about it with them or not. They are going to obtain sexual information somewhere. It’s better that the information comes from you than from television, music, the internet, or their peers.|
Below is a recent parent question that Thomas addressed on TV5’s Family Matters:
I found the recent Sports Illustrated swim suit issue in my ten year old son’s bedroom. I’m appalled by the pictures, which I consider pornographic. How do I keep this from becoming a bigger problem?
Click the link below to view the answer:
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ANSWER
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