As parents, a major part of our job is to ensure that we communicate with our children about safety. While it may be an uncomfortable topic- communication about body safety can make a huge difference to your baby’s well-being.
It might seem like a tricky subject because there is a fine line between empowering your child and terrifying them. While you don’t want them to be afraid of every person they see, you also don’t want them to be taken advantage of by the wrong person. And if you are thinking that your child will be safe, because you monitor everyone they are around, please understand that oftentimes, abusers can be those closest to you and even other kids.
Prevention begins in the home. Below, I have provided five meaningful ways you can teach your child about safe and unsafe touch.
1. Talk to them at home, in a peaceful moment and environment.
Discussing body safety can be a scary topic to breach, so when you approach the topic, make sure that the circumstances are peaceful and calm. Do not discuss it in the heat of the moment, or when you’ve gotten upset and are emotional. Make sure to do it from a calm and collected place, choose your words carefully and listen while being attentive to your child.
2. Discuss safe and unsafe touch.
Explain what safe and unsafe touches are and how they look in reality. Use examples and invite them to compare too. For example, unsafe touch would be if someone asks you not to tell anyone, if they force you to touch them, or if the touch makes you nervous or scared. Safe touch would be a hug from someone they trust or a doctor’s examination.
3. Empower them to be in charge of their own body.
Let them be in charge of their own body. If they do not want to be hugged, allow them to set that boundary. Make sure they understand that it’s not okay for someone else to touch them in any way that they do not like. An example might be if a friend was jumping up and down on them. They should be able to tell the person to stop.
4. Teach them body safety rules.
Make sure that your child understands body safety rules. Rules would include things like: it’s never okay for someone to touch your private parts, it’s never okay for someone to take pictures of them with their clothes off, and it’s never okay for people to show them videos of people without clothes. There are many different body safety rules to consider, but discussing as many as you can think of in a way that isn’t scary is important.
5. Explain that unsafe touch should NEVER be a secret.
Above all remind them that unsafe touching should never be a secret. Honestly, I would encourage them to not keep secrets from you at all.