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As parents, we must do whatever we can within our power to keep our babies safe. And while car seats, training wheels, and helmets most definitely help, it’s also important to discuss body safety with our kids.

While this can be an uncomfortable topic, by not implementing body safety discussions with your little ones, you are doing them a major disservice. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in every 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before they reach 18. Even worse is the fact that 23% of their perpetrators were children themselves.

We may not always be able to protect our kids, but we can do whatever we can to help protect them as much as possible. Part of that is by making sure that you are covering body safety with them and keeping them informed about body safety. Here are 9 essential rules that will help you along the way.

1. Make sure they know the proper names for their parts.

It might seem like the right thing to do to teach your child to say ‘hoo-ha’ instead of vagina because a lot of people do this to avoid having their child say those words. In reality, it is much better to have your child know that they have a penis or vagina and for them to be able to name it. The reason for this is that a predator is much less likely to try something with a child that can name their parts, and if someone does try to touch them, they will know this is a no-no, and they will be able to tell anyone around them what is going on.

2. Ensure they understand what is private.

Emphasize what the word private means. You can use examples, like saying a toilet is a private place, while a kitchen is an open area or shared space. Then, relate those terms to body parts.

3. Discuss safe and unsafe touching.

Instead of using terms like ‘good’ or ‘bad’ touch, stick with terms like ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe.’ When discussing unsafe touching, it does not have to strictly be in regards to private parts, although that will be a major focus, of course. You can also include pushing, hitting kicking, or anything that makes them feel uncomfortable (see below.)

4. No secrets allowed.

Make it clear that secrets are NOT allowed because they can be harmful. Most predators will tell children to keep their abuse secret, so it’s a good idea to let them know that they shouldn’t keep secrets at home, with friends, family, or anyone.

5. Have your child name five people they could tell if they were being touched in an unsafe way.

Make sure your little one has a safety net of people they can alert if they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Help them to name up to five people that they can seek out for help and guidance.

6. Tell them to NEVER allow anyone to take pictures of their private areas.

In modern times, technology has become very prevalent, so it’s possible someone may try to take pictures of your child. Please emphasize that NO ONE should ever take a picture of other people’s private parts.

7. Discuss uncomfortable feelings.

We often make sure that our kids understand feelings like anger, sadness, etc, but the discomfort should also be a major point of discussion. Explain what discomfort is like (heart racing, goosebumps, etc.) so they can identify it and let someone know how they feel.

8. Let them know they will NEVER get in trouble for talking to you about those uncomfortable feelings/ or anything they tell you about body safety.

Make it clear that no matter what, they will never get in trouble for letting you know what is happening. No matter what someone says, they will never get in trouble for telling you.

9. Empower them to speak up when something makes them feel uncomfortable.

Tell them any time they are feeling uncomfortable or someone is asking them to break the rules, to feel empowered to say NO. They can say it firmly, yell it, or do whatever they feel like they need to do. When it comes to their body and their boundaries, let them know they are always allowed to express how they feel and remove themselves from the situation and tell another adult.

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