Talking to Children About Body Safety
- Age 3 is a good time to begin talking to your child about his/her body parts and safety education. Teach your child the correct words to describe his/her body parts.
- Talk to your child about safety rules, such as wearing a helmet or seat belt, and include unwanted touching as a safety rule.
- Teach your child that no one should touch his/her private parts (parts covered by a bathing suit) except to keep them healthy, such as a doctor checkup.
- Teach your child to tell a trusted adult if something happens—even if the child couldn’t say no at the time.
- Teach your child never to keep secrets from you unless it’s a good surprise, such as a birthday present.
- Read a book with your child about body safety.
How to Talk to Your Child
- Be open and honest when your child asks questions
- Talk at a level your child can understand
- Use your child’s own words
- Encourage your child to talk to you about anything at any time
- Praise your child for telling you difficult things
- Listen without judging
Keep Children Safe from Child Abuse
There are some things parents can do to make sure their children are safe from child abuse.
- Check out the people involved in your child’s activities:
- After-school programs
- Day care providers
- Dating partners
- Play groups
- Sports programs
- Visit your child’s day care center or caregiver’s home periodically and unannounced. Talk with others who have children in that person’s care.
- Check out the background of caregivers:
- How long has the caregiver been a childcare provider?
- Is the caregiver licensed by the state as a day care provider?
- Has the caregiver been investigated or accused of a child abuse in the past? Check the sex offender registry for a criminal history. Does the caregiver have a criminal or drug/alcohol history?
- Be aware of the interactions others have with your child.
Watch for Changes in Your Child’s Behavior
Certain behaviors can indicate sexual child abuse but may also be related to other things going on in a child’s life, such as a death, divorce, recent move or change in schools. It is important to watch for changes. If changes in your child’s behavior interfere with normal activity or continue after you have provided your child with guidance and structure, seek professional help.
Normal behaviors for children (ages 1 to 5) include interest in:
- The world
- Looking at others’ bodies
- Bathroom activities of others
- Showing their private parts to peers
- Touching their private parts as self-soothing behavior, usually during naps or bedtime
If You Suspect Child Sexual Abuse
- Be calm
- Tell your child he/she did the right thing by telling you
- Protect your child from the person and let your child know you will help keep him/her safe
- Report your concerns immediately to the authorities to seek child abuse help
- Call your child’s doctor and/or arrange to have your child seen by an expert in medical evaluations for suspected sexual abuse
- Do not place blame on your child
- Do not make judgmental comments
- Do not confront the person
- Do not have your child confront the person
To learn more about preventing child sexual abuse, sign up for a Stewards of Children training near you. The Stephanie V. Blank Center for Safe and Healthy Children offers Stewards of Children throughout the year at Children’s locations. Other facilitators across the state can be found by visiting www.D2L.org.