Teaching children rules helps keep them safe, but it’s hard to know how to say things so that your child will understand. You know your child best, but here are some guidelines about what to tell kids of different ages about how to stay safe from sexual abuse.
For All Ages
There are several rules that are common to children of any age. Teach these rules no matter how old your child is, then refer to the correct age group below for additional rules.
- Never keep secrets about touching. (This is the Never Keep Secrets Rule.)
- Always ask me or the person in charge of you first when someone wants you to do something or go somewhere, or wants to give you something. (This rule, the Always Ask First Rule, helps protect your child from possible danger and makes sure you know who your child is with and what your child is doing.)
- If someone breaks the Touching Rule, tell an adult, and keep telling until someone believes you.
- It’s NEVER your fault if someone breaks the if someone breaks the Touching Rule.
Five and Under
For young children, keep rules simple and easy to remember, and don’t forget to go over them frequently. The more often you talk about it, the better your child will remember, and the more comfortable you will be talking about the subject of sexual abuse prevention. Here is a sample rule to use with children under five:
- A bigger person should NEVER touch your private body parts except to keep you healthy. (This is the Touching Rule.)
Six and Up
As children get older, the rules can be more specific and more numerous. Again, it’s important to go over these rules together frequently, both to get comfortable talking about it and to help your child remember them. These sample rules can be used with kids aged six and up:
- No one should ever touch your private body parts except to keep you healthy.
- You should not touch other people’s private body parts either.
Nine and Up
Older children can generally handle detailed rules—but since they can also read, you can even post these rules in a place where they’ll be seen frequently (placing these rules alongside other household safety rules—such as “Wear a helmet whenever you’re on wheels!”—will make them less uncomfortable). Here are sample rules you can use with kids aged nine and up:
- Another person should NEVER touch or ask to see your private body parts except to keep you healthy.
- You should NEVER touch or be made to look at another person’s private body parts.
- No one should take photos of your private body parts, or show you photos of other people’s private parts.