Protecting children from sexual abuse is a safety issue just like crossing the street or playing with fire. Making safety rules for private body parts a regular part of your family’s general safety rules is an easier way to talk about them.
Some typical family safety rules are:
- Never play with fire
- Never cross the street without checking for traffic
- Never ride in a car without wearing a seatbelt
- Never play with guns
- Never ride on wheels without wearing a helmet
- Never use a sharp tool without an older person’s help
Safety Rules for Private Body Parts
Create and teach family safety rules about touching and private body parts just as you would other rules. As part of your family’s general safety rules, establish a rule that is never okay for someone else to touch your child’s private body parts except to keep your child healthy.
The “healthy” part of this rule refers to young children who still wear diapers or need help going to the bathroom or bathing. It also refers to doctor visits—for example, when the doctor gives a child a shot. An adult family member should always be present at doctor appointments.
Teach your children the following safety rules:
- It’s never okay to touch someone else’s private body parts
- It’s never okay for someone to touch his or her own private body parts in front of you
- It’s never okay for someone to ask you to touch his or her private body parts
- It’s never okay for someone to ask you to take your clothes off or to take photos or videos of you with your clothes off
- It’s never okay for someone to show you photos or videos of people without their clothes on
The Always Ask First Rule
Alongside your family’s other safety rules, establish an “always ask first” rule. This means that your kids should always ask you or the adult in charge before anyone can give them something, take them somewhere, or do something with them.
Is your child’s school teaching safety rules? Is the staff trained in how to recognize and report signs of abuse, and do they have the right policies and procedures in place to help keep kids safe? If not, recommend the Second Step Child Protection Unit.