The Right Tools
By Laura Fogerty
What if we decided to give our children the gift of innocence? What if this gift didn’t have to be complicated or expensive? Would you do it? It’s really just a matter of prevention – taking simple precautions to prevent harm before it can have a lifelong, negative impact. We buckle our littles into child safety seats as a preventative measure, not because we expect to get into an automobile accident, but to keep them safe. We fasten their tiny helmets before venturing out on a bicycle ride, not because we expect danger, but because we want to prevent injury. Likely, you have the tools your children need to be safe from any host of potentially harmful situations in daily life, from outlet covers to smoke detectors, but do you give your children the tools they need to keep them safe from sexual abuse?
Would it surprise you to know that your child is statistically far more likely to be a victim of child sexual abuse than he is to be injured in a bicycle or automobile accident? We take the necessary precautions to protect our children, without hesitation, when it comes to bikes and cars, so why do we put them in a higher risk category for sexual abuse when we don’t have to?
Experts know that the safest children are the children who have the tools they need to protect themselves – and the list of tools they need may surprise you. Here it is – the language and the permission to talk about abuse. That’s it. It really is that simple. Talk to your children. Give them the correct name for body parts. Talk about appropriate and inappropriate touching. Give them your permission to come to you to report abuse. Tell them to trust their instincts.
We go to great lengths, rightfully so, to protect our children from harm. We protect them from dangers on the road, and on the playground. We hold their hands when crossing through parking lots. We keep them close by when in a crowded place. We read labels and protect them from harmful ingredients. Why don’t we protect them from the form of harm that is statistically the most likely to happen to them?
Talk to your littles. Give them your permission to talk about sexual abuse. Equip them with seat belts and helmets and equip them with the gift of words. You might just keep them safe from harm when you do.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!
Laura has an ACE score of 6.