The world is an unsafe place, especially for children who might not be able to protect themselves. More of both parents working, childcare is often outsourced. Personal baby-sitters and child-minders, helpers at day cares and after school cares, teachers at school, often relatives with whom children might be left, visitors and even sometimes a parent – child molesters might lurk in any form, not just as strangers. Our defences are often down in these cases, unlike when dealing with strangers. These abusers can be women as much as men, as they might have more of an opportunity, and boys can be abused just as much as girls.
The best thing to do is to sensitize the child. Teach her/him about good touch, bad touch. About knowing what parts of his body are private, off-limits to anyone but themselves. About shouting for help if they feel threatened. Children are often rewarded for obeying adults, and might not be able to say no when someone known to them starts crossing boundaries. Even if the adult in question might not mean harm, it is important for a child to be able to say no. About telling at least one trusted adult if they find themselves in an abusive situation – with the caveat that that adult implicitly believes in what the child is saying.
How to go about talking to children, and what to tell them? Books help. All these are available online, and clicking on the title will take you to their amazon page. Some are quite expensive, so looking for them in your library is recommended.
10 books to help keep your child safe from sexual abuse
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The Right Touch For children 2+.
This book is suitable for very young children, as young as 2 years old. A gentle story that shows an unsafe situation talks about what a right touch is.
Good Touch/Bad Touch: children’s safety book For children 3+
One more book to teach children about good touch bad touch, and what they can do in an unsafe situation.
Uncle Willy Tickles For children 3+.
Teaches children to say an emphatic NO if any action, even playful makes them uncomfortable, like Uncle Willy’s tickling.
Inside Out – your body is amazing and belongs only to you For children 6+.
This is a book that will help you – the adult – in how to teach a young child to keep themselves safe, using a programme that is positive and body-affirming.
My body is private For children 3+
I like the way the private area of the body is described – that which is usually covered in a swimsuit. An empowering book.
Your body belongs to you For children 2+
One more book that affirms a child’s ownership of its body, this can be used by teachers in a classroom setting too.
It’s my body! For children 2+
This is again a gem for very young children. Giving them the ownership of their bodies and empowering them to say no to anything that makes them uncomfortable.
I said No! For children 3+
Sometimes it could be peers who abuse. Or older children. It helps to have little ones rehearse what they might say in such situations, and stand up to their abuser.
Do you have a secret? For children 2+
Children love having secrets. But keeping some secrets might make them feel bad. The book encourages little ones to share these ‘bad’ secrets, so that they remain safe.
I can be safe For children 3+
Safety first. This book talks about the different situations in which children need to stay safe, not just in case of sexual abuse. A good book to use.