With an increasing rate of news related to sexual abuse and harassment cases being commonly aired on social media, voiced by family members and family friends, and showcased on headliners of today – it is nearly inevitable that your child will come across “trigger” words such as ‘rape, ‘ sexual abuse,’ and ‘molestation’
Apart from the parental wish to keep your child from hearing sensitive information from the wrong sources, it is essential to address this subject in an age-appropriate manner, with a suitable setting and a positive line of action from the child’s primary caregivers. Also, considering the sensitivity of the topic, it may be difficult for some parents and caregivers to know ‘where to start’ or ‘how to talk to children’ about what sexual abuse means. In light of this, our Pedagogy team has researched & compiled a few simple steps about how parents and guardians can broach this topic with their child.
STEP 1: STARTING THE CONVERSATION:
Understand the issue in its entirety first. Children of BOTH genders are prone to abuse. If you as a parent find it uncomfortable to talk to your child, you may always involve a trusted family member, physician, counsellor or the child’s teacher.
STEP 2: EXPLAINING SAFE AND UNSAFE TOUCH
Break down concepts to the child’s level of understanding and explain it in your own creative, personable way. Do not make it a ‘taboo’ topic or something that is driven with fear. You could:
STEP 3: SETTING UP AN ACTION PLAN
Apart from helping your child understand their safety, it is equally important to prepare them with knowing what to do if they are a victim or an offender (not intentionally, but perhaps by being curiously playful).
STEP 4: BEING APPROACHABLE
Keep all channels of communication open at home to enable an approachable environment for your child.
An important part of training children on this sensitive topic is dealing with possible past pain and wrongful experiences they may be carrying with them. Patiently enable children to move through it, encouraging them to express the situation and their feelings, thoughts and insecurities. Highlight constant reinforcement that it is NOT the child’s fault. Reassure them of their safety and comfort them with how you will look out for them now and ensure that nothing like this will be repeated.