In early childhood children learn problem-solving, emotional management, and social skills that form the basis of their relationship later in life, and it is also the time when children form views on gender roles, relationships and the acceptability of aggression and violence. Children learn much of this from the people around them, so it is essential that positive parenting and home environments free from violence (WHO, 2007)
Child sexual abuse violates a child’s physical and emotional boundaries. Therefore, children need a sense of healthy boundaries and body ownership in order for them to know the difference between “okay” and “not okay” touches.
In order for children to understand child sexual abuse, they need the following:
Sense of Body OwnershipTeach your children to respect their body and the bodies of others. Ask your children for their permission to give them a hug, kiss, etc. As a parent, model your own right to say no and to decide what is right for your body. Give your children the facts about their whole body and the names for their private. parts, and include the mouth as a private part.
Sense of Healthy BoundariesModel healthy boundaries by asserting your own privacy and giving your children the opportunity to let you know when they would like privacy. Tell your child that his or her body and private parts are private. Talk to your child about how “okay” touches feel different from “not okay” touches. Believe, normalize and validate when your child tells you how he or she is feeling.
Also talk to your child about how child sexual abuse might make a child feel. Talk about the wide range of feelings that can result from abuse.Ask your child to think about how a child might feel if he or she was touched on his or her private parts for no good reason by someone he or she knows (confused, sad, scared, angry, worried, etc.) Also tell your child that a touch to a child’s private parts may feel “good” to his or her body. If this happens it does not mean the touch is the child’s fault, or that the touch is okay. It is normal for our body’s to react in a way to touches that we have no control over.
It is also important to teach your child that when child sexual abuse happens, it is usually done by someone the child knows.Start by asking your child who he or she thinks usually sexually abuses kids. Let your child know that it is usually done by someone the child knows. Make a list with your child of all the different kinds of people that kids know (i.e. aunts, uncles, moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, babysitters, etc.) Let your child know that any of these people could sexually abuse a child.