• Below is an article from www.childhelp.org, and its researched based prevention program, "Good-Touch/Bad-Touch".

     

    Talking to a Child about Abuse

    Children as young as four years old can understand the basic concepts of good touches, bad touches and confusing touches.  These young children can also understand the definition of sexual abuse and are not afraid of the words that sends a chill up the spines of adults.  Use the words "sexual abuse" when talking with your child because if a child is victimized, they need to be able to tell you that they were "sexually abused!"  Child protective services social workers will tell you that a child without the language to describe their victimization, is a child whose case is weakened in the court system.  Remember, you are not putting the responsibility on the child.  Instead, you are helping the child to understand the problem and identify safe people who will support them!

    Many years of experience, teaching thousands of children, have shown that children are not threatened by this information, they embrace it!  It is so very evident in the classroom when we teach Good-Touch/Bad-Touch that children are proud that they are learning how to take care of themselves.  Teaching your child about sexual abuse further empowers your child to participate in his/her own body safety!

    Children need to hear information more than once.  Discuss with your child "the problem that some children might have" by introducing the concept of different touches the first day, repeat touching and discuss the five body safety rules (typed in bold below) the second day, and review the third day.  This way, your child will "own" this information.  Repetition allows them to retain what they have learned.  A one-time discussion is soon forgotten.  Also, repeating your discussions every year will reinforce what they have learned and reintroduces points they may have forgotten.  Let's not rule out the possibility that, in the course of your discussion, a child may exclaim, "Hey! That's happened to me!"  While a parent can never be fully prepared for such a disclosure, you may want to know how to respond to a child who discloses abuse, before you begin your talk with your child. 

    The outline that follows is a synopsis of key points presented in the highly acclaimed Good-Touch/Bad-Touch body safety education program.  This synopsis is offered here to help you discuss this very difficult topic with your children so that they will have the tools they may need to stay safe from sexual abuse.

    • Teach your child that they are "special" and have the right to know everything they can about being safe!  Discuss all of the safety rules they have learned and explain that there are some more safety rules to learn.
    • When teaching your child about sexual abuse, talk about 3 different types of touch:  good touch, bad touch, and sexual abuse touch.  "Good touches" are those touches that make us feel happy, safe and loved.  Good touches can make us feel warm inside or can make us feel like a smile.  Emphasize that most of the touch we get is good touch.  Good touches are so important!  "Bad touches" are those touches that hurt us;  they feel like an ouch.  Some examples are kicking, hitting and biting.  "Sexual abuse touch" is defined as "forced or tricked touch of private body parts."  The key words are forced and tricked.  A force is when someone makes you do something you don't want to do or don't understand.  A trick is when someone lies to you, fools you, pretends or calls something a game, that really isn't a game, so they can touch your private body parts or have you touch theirs.  Explain that sexual abuse is confusing because it doesn't necessarily hurt;  the touch can feel good.  And that is confusing to children.
    • Use the words "sexual abuse" to eliminate unnecessary confusion.  The effort to call sexual abuse by another name (such as inappropriate touch) is counterproductive--leading to more confusion for children.  After all, we can be assured that the sexual abuse offender of our children will not call what he/she is doing sexual abuse!!!  By giving your child the correct language, you give your child the power!
    • Teach your child that they have the right to trust their own feelings and to ask questions when they feel uncomfortable or confused by someone's behavior.  Talk about times when they may have had an anxious feeling (forgetting homework, losing something, frightened by a loud noise, etc.).  Discuss the importance of paying attention to our feelings in situations when we are feeling uncomfortable.
    • Teach your child that they have the right to say "NO!" to sexual abuse.  Teach them that they can say "NO!" to anyone who might want to sexually abuse them;  even if the offender is an adult;  even if the offender is someone they know.
    • Teach your child that it is very important to tell a trusted adult if someone sexually abuses them or hurts them in any way.  Teach your child that they can tell another person if they are not believed.  Discuss and identify trusted adults in their life. 
    • Teach your child that it is okay to break promises they might make about sexual abuse.  Children do not have to keep any promise that makes them feel bad inside.
    • Teach your child that if sexual abuse happens to a child, it is NEVER the child's fault.  Older children (4th grade and up) may come up with ways in which it could be the child's fault;  explain that sexual abuse is against the law and children are not responsible when someone breaks the law and sexually abuses them.
    • Teach your child that a person who sexually abuses a child can be anyone.  Most children, even adults, think that offenders are usually strangers.  Children need to know that thy have the right to say "NO!", and tell even when the offender is someone they know, love or even live with.  (In 90% of cases, the offender is someone the child knows)
    • Discuss with your child that telling about sexual abuse can be very difficult, but that the abuse won't stop until they tell someone.  An abused child doesn't start to feel better until they tell someone.
    • Let your child know that is is never too late to tell about sexual abuse.
    • Let your child know that if sexual abuse happens to them, they are still a good person, they are still lovable, and that you will always love them no matter what!

     

    BODY SAFETY RULES

     

    1.  HEY, ITS MY BODY!  -  I have the right to know ALL the safety rules.

    2.  THE "UH-OH" FEELING  -  If I feel like something's wrong, then I'm right.

    3.  SAY "NO!"  -  I can say "NO!" to sexual abuse or to a bad touch.

    4.  TELL SOMEONE  -  I will tell someone if I am sexually abused or hurt.

    5.  SEXUAL ABUSE IS NEVER MY FAULT

     

     

    HANDLING A CHILD'S REPORT OF ABUSE

     

    Research has taught us a very important fact that all parents should know: 

         The single most important factor in a child's doing well after being abused is the emotional support of the parent(s).  If your child is sexually abused, the most important thing that you can do for your child's mental helath is believe him/her and support him/her emotionally.

    Many children don't tell their parents about their childhood sexual abuse until they are older, as teenagers or even as adults.  The following is a guide to supporting your child:

    • REMAIN CALM.  Most parents feel awful when they learn that their child has been abused.  It is most important that you do not overreact.  An overreaction will only scare and make your child feel more ashamed.  Your child may say it didn't really happen in order to protect you!
    • BELIEVE YOUR CHILD.  Children do not make up sexual abuse
    • LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD.  Be careful not to make comments and judgements about the offender.  Usually, the child knows or loves the person who abused them.  Making comments and judgments adds to the child's pain and discomfort.
    • REASSURE YOUR CHILD HE/SHE DID NOTHING WRONG.  Abuse is never a child's fault.
    • MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD IS SAFE from further abuse.
    • GET HELP FOR BOTH YOUR CHILD AND YOURSELF AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  There are many counselors who understand about child sexual abuse and can help.  Make sure that the counselor you choose feels comfortable with the topic of sexual abuse.  Many do not understand the issue, and careful selection is important.  Don't forget yourself and your own feelings.  You will be best able to support your child if you are also being supported!

    If you don't know where to find help, contact the Childhelp Natiional Child Abuse Hotline:  1-800-4-A-CHILD.

    Don't be afraid to ask for help!