Do your children wear helmets when they ride a bicycle? Yes? Do you buckle your littles into safety seats whenever they get into a car? Of course, you say? Do your children have the tools they need to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse? The answer to this question should come as easily as the answers to the first two questions, but for so many of us, it doesn’t.
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. Trust your instincts and allow them to trust theirs.
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’ll be keeping 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!