First– Teaching children the proper names of their body parts and their functions is important. This will give children the words to use to properly describe sexual abuse. You can also explain to them there are times these words are okay to use and times they are not. For example, at school it would not be appropriate to say the names of the body parts unless they are speaking to a safe adult.
Second– Teaching children they are “the boss” and in control of their body is also important. If they are uncomfortable with a situation, they are able to say “No” or “Stop.” For example, if they do not want someone to tickle them, they can end the activity. Also, if they do not want to give everyone hugs and kisses, this is okay. Telling someone to stop does not mean they have an “attitude”. It is them taking control of their body. Explain this to the safe adults around them, too.
Third– Explain there are three types of touches and two types of adults/friends.
Safe Touches– These are touches which keep children clean and healthy. Sometimes these touches can hurt. For example, taking a splinter out can be painful, but it is to keep the child healthy and to prevent an infection.
Unsafe Touches– These are touches which hurt the child’s feelings or body. Examples are hitting, kicking, shoving, punching, etc. These kinds of touches are not okay, and when the child or someone else says “Stop”, the behavior needs to stop.
Unwanted Touches– These are touches which may be safe, but the child does not want them. It is okay for the child to say “No” to an unwanted touch even if it is from a familiar person. These can also be touches wherein someone bigger, older, or stronger touches the child’s private parts. Explain to the child if they are uncomfortable in any way, they need to tell a safe adult.
Safe Adults/Friends– These are people who the child trusts and who take care of the child. These adults/friends respect the child’s wishes and the rules of the child’s parents. They will not intentionally hurt, scare, or confuse the child. Explain to children if someone touches them in an unsafe or unwanted way, they need to tell a safe adult. Also, explain to children sometimes safe adults can use unsafe/unwanted touches and if this occurs they need to tell another safe adult. Any feeling of uneasiness or of any unsafe/unwanted touches need to be reported to a safe adult.
Unsafe Adults/Friends– These are people who harm a child’s body or feelings in any way. If this happens, or if a child feels uncomfortable around someone, they need to know who their safe adults are. Explain to children that sometimes an unsafe person can act as if they are using safe touches, but this is still not okay, and they need to tell a safe adult.
Fourth– Explain there are two types of secrets.
Safe Secrets– These are secrets which are okay to keep from other people. For example, not telling Mommy or Daddy what present you got for them. A good secret is a secret which would not cause harm to the child or to anyone else.
Unsafe Secrets– These are secrets which are not okay to keep from other people. If a safe/unsafe adult touches the child’s private parts in an unsafe/unwanted way and threatens them to keep it a secret, this is a bad secret. It is okay to tell another safe adult about this secret because it causes harm to the child and to others.
Fifth– Create a safety plan and choose a “safe word” with your children.
By creating a safety plan with your child, you can help to ensure they do not willingly go with a stranger. Play the “What would you do?” game. For example, “What would you do if a stranger came up to you and said ‘Mommy wanted me to pick you up from school and take you home because she is running late.’” Explain to the child how to use a “safe word”, (which would be a word only safe adults know), and to use this word in these situations.” For example, the child could respond with “What is the safe word?” This causes confusion for the unsafe adult, (if the person does not know the safe word), and gives the child time to run and tell a safe adult.