Body Safety For Children
Start conversations about safety when your kids are young
It can be stressful to plan a big safety talk with your child. The good news is, you don’t have to. Conversations about body safety can be a part of the safety conversations you’re already having, like knowing when to speak up, how to take care of friends, and listening to your gut. The key is to start these conversations when your kids are young, and have these conversations often.
It's important to teach young children the language they need to talk about their bodies and information about boundaries to help them understand what is allowed and what is inappropriate. These lessons help them know when something isn’t right and give them the power to speak up.
- Teach children the names of their body parts. When children have the words to describe their body parts, they may find it easier to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
- Some parts of the body are private. Let children know that other people shouldn’t touch or look at them. If a healthcare professional has to examine these parts of the body, be present.
- It’s OK to say “no.” It’s important to let children know they are allowed to say “no” to touches that make them uncomfortable. This message isn’t obvious to children, who are often taught to be obedient and follow the rules. Support your child if they say no, even if it puts you in an uncomfortable position. For example, if your child doesn't want to hug someone at a family gathering, respect their decision to say “no” to this contact.
Talk about secrets. Perpetrators will often use secret-keeping to manipulate children. Let children know they can always talk to you, especially if they’ve been told to keep a secret. If they see someone touching another child, they shouldn’t keep this secret, either.
Reassure them that they won’t get in trouble. Young children often fear getting in trouble or upsetting their parents by asking questions or talking about their experiences. Be a safe place for your child to share information about things that they have questions about or that make them uncomfortable. Remind them they won’t be punished for sharing this information with you.
- Show them what it looks like to do the right thing. It could be as simple as helping an elderly person get off a bus or picking up change that someone has dropped on the ground. When you model helping behavior it signals to your child that this is a normal, positive way to behave.
When they come to you, make time for them. If your kid comes to you with something they feel is important, take the time to listen. Give them your undivided attention, and let them know you take their concerns seriously. They may be more likely to come to you in the future if they know their voice will be heard.
The information above is from the RAINN website. RAINN is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. More information can be found here: https://www.rainn.org/articles/talking-your-kids-about-sexual-assault