Friday, 3 May 2013

How to help protect your child from sexual assault

One of our roles as parents is to make our children independent so they can cope with adult society and have productive, happy lives.

But part of that is navigating our way around some pretty awful subjects. In our house, Daddy Longlegs and I keep shaking our heads as all the old TV favourites have been falling off their perches because of some past shocking misdeeds. The latest to topple being Stuart Hall.

I remember with great affection the It’s a Knockout TV programmes on a Saturday night. It was family viewing and Stuart Hall made a big contribution to that.

How many more are going to crash and burn in the post-Jimmy-Savile climate?

It got me thinking on what information to give our children to protect them from sexual assault because you can be 100 per cent certain that if it is going to happen to them YOU won’t be there.

Forearmed is forewarned, so I did a bit of research online to see if there was any professional advice out there on how to best inform your child on protecting themselves from sexual assault or at least to know what inappropriate behaviour is.

Disappointingly, I didn’t find much information on any UK sites along those lines, the only information I found was on how to watch out for the signs that your child IS being abused.

However, I found some information on an Australian site My Dr. So, if you want to be better prepared when the ugly subject comes up for discussion in your house, here it is:

How to help protect your child
  • Children need to be taught about personal (sexual) safety as openly as they are taught about road safety and water safety.
  • Teach your child that it is not OK for anyone to touch the parts of their body that are covered by their underwear.

    (Prestopeople edit: a tricky one - and it's been pointed out to me by a reader that it's hard to explain that it's wrong now, but with a person they love when they are older...
    Personally, for a primary school child, I think I would say that no one should be touching their private parts unless they have asked someone to help them such as someone you both know you trust implicitly. What do you think?)
  • Teach your child that it is not OK for them to touch another person’s private parts, even if an adult or an older child asks them to do so.
  • Encourage your child to tell you if anyone touches their private parts.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about anything that happens that makes them feel scared or worried.
  • Tell your child never to keep a secret that makes them feel bad or worried, no matter how much another adult is telling them to keep the secret.
  • Teach your child respectful and accurate names for the sexual parts of their body.
  • Teach your child that their body can warn them when a situation is wrong or dangerous — they might get a tight feeling in their tummy and feel scared. Talking about what these feelings mean helps children to recognise and trust their own feelings about a dangerous situation.
  • Be suspicious of an adult wanting to spend time alone with your child, or being overly generous or affectionate towards your child.
  • As you cannot be with your child all the time, ask about the child protection policy of any organisations that are involved in looking after your child.

If you have any other suggestions on how to inform your children when the subject comes up, and at what age, I’d really like to hear it and I’m sure other parents would, too, so be brave – post a comment.

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