Talk to a Child to Prevent Sexual Abuse
Tips from Cleveland Rape Crisis Center
- A child is more likely to be sexually abused by someone you know – a family member, friend, clergy or neighbor – than a stranger. Be cautious about “stranger danger” messages that may keep a child from talking to you about someone they know who is hurting them.
- It is never too early to tell a child that no one has the right to touch them if they don’t want to be touched. This includes loving touches from parents, grandparents and other family and friends. Remind adults to respect a child’s decision if they don’t want to be tickled, kissed, hugged or touched – for any reason.
- Teach children about their bodies and what abuse is, and, when age-appropriate, about sex. Teach them words that help them discuss sex comfortably with you. Use the correct terms for body parts, not silly names.
- Understand why a child may not tell you if someone is hurting them. The abuser often shames the child or tells the child that his or her parents will be angry. The abuser is often manipulative and may try to confuse the child about what is right or wrong. The child may be worried that the abuser will harm you if you find out.
- Consider reading an age-appropriate book about child sexual abuse to help illustrate what you mean. This is an easy way to repeat the message.
- Role play with a child about ways to respond if someone touches him or her. Teach the child to firmly say no and then tell an adult. Use puppets or dolls to act out the response.
- If a child seems uncomfortable or resistant to being with a particular adult, ask why.
- Your body belongs to you.
- Sometimes even people that we love can hurt us.
- Surprises and secrets are not the same. Secrets are almost never a good idea.
- There is a difference between safe touches, ouch touches and uh-oh touches. Uh-oh touches might not hurt, but make us feel uncomfortable. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, you should tell an adult.
- It is “against the rules” for adults to act in a sexual way with them. (Use examples.)
- No one has the right to touch body parts that are covered by their bathing suits unless that person is cleaning/bathing you or a doctor.
- Everyone has the same body parts and no one should be ashamed of them.