I’m sure as you’re scrolling through social media right now your newsfeed is filled with a few different headlines. One that seems to be very prominent right now is child sex trafficking and grooming children for sexual abuse.
This is a topic that makes most people very uncomfortable.
It actually makes me very uncomfortable but my husband and I made the decision a long time ago that we will always be very open and honest with our children.
There are a few things we do and will do as our children grow up that we feel will help protect them from any type of sexual abuse. Obviously, there isn’t anything we can do that is 100% full proof, however, there are huge steps we can take as parents that we believe will help.
First, we are teaching our children the proper names for their private parts.
Our kiddos are at the age where they think certain words are hilarious and lucky for me, penis and vagina are on the funny word list so it gets hollered every chance they get. Even in public. One of the biggest reasons it’s so important for children to know these words is if something were to ever happen, it’s much easier to prosecute the abuser if the child can name the proper body parts and tell someone exactly what happened.
Proper terms can actually be a turn off to predators.
If a child says, “Don’t touch my…” and knows the proper words, it can deter that person from doing something because they know it’s easier to be caught and prosecuted.
Let’s normalize saying penis and vagina instead of cutesy pet names.
We also talk about how these parts of our body are private and nobody is allowed to look or touch. Our pediatrician even goes as far as to say, “I’m allowed to look because I’m the doctor and mommy is here. But nobody else is allowed to” when doing an exam or physical.
Another thing we have done is we have created a list of safe people that my four-year-old has so charmingly named “The Vagina List.” This is a list of people she knows she can go to if she ever needs to disclose information or talk about private things. Because she’s only four, this list is very small and limited to me, my husband, and her grandparents (this was her choice).
She knows if something happens, she can go to any of these SAFE adults and they will help her.
It is so important for our children to have these safe people in their lives so they have people they know they can trust. I assume my daughter isn’t always going to feel comfortable coming to me first. I mean, I hope that will never happen, but maybe she feels more comfortable going to Nana or MawMaw, which is great! That means our safe person list served its purpose and done its job.
Another thing we do is allow our children to have boundaries. It is their choice what they do with their bodies.
If they don’t want to hug someone or give someone a kiss, or whatever it is, they don’t have to. Ever.
If someone is tickling them, and they want them to stop, we will make that person stop. Always. Even if it’s family. This gives our children the opportunity to say no in any situation and they know that mom and dad will have their backs and support them no matter what. This is such a simple but huge thing.
Letting your child know that they don’t have to “just do it” or be told “don’t be rude” tells them that they have control of certain things and it gives them the liberty to make that decision in other situations.
Another important thing you can do is to pay attention to when our child is uncomfortable around someone. Ask your child questions about it. Why does this person make them uncomfortable? Go with your gut. Go with their gut. Question anyone asking your child to keep secrets from you. Make sure your child knows that a safe adult won’t ask them to keep secrets. Let them know they will never get in trouble for this. Creating an open and honest communication in this regard is vital.
Remember, no is a complete sentence. If your child doesn’t want to do something, listen. Ask questions. Let them just talk and really hear what they have to say. I think this can start at a young age. If you listen to the little things, I believe they’ll always come to you for the big things. Listen to their silly stories and laugh at their jokes. Really truly listen to them so later when they have big things to tell you, they know mom and dad will listen and truly hear them.
I know this is a difficult topic and this article may have been very difficult or triggering for some to read but it’s unbelievably important for us to be honest and open with our children.
Unfortunately, some people just aren’t nice and it’s okay and maybe even good for our children to know that.
I don’t think we need to terrify them with horrendous details of this world but I also don’t want my kiddos trusting every person they see. My hope is that every parent will have these conversations with their children so we can help protect them and their future.