When my boys were young, they loved swimming. We went to the pool almost daily in the summer. I spoke to them frequently and openly about the fact that they should have clear boundaries, that their private parts were private, and that if anyone attempted to touch them, they should tell me immediately. I always promised they would not get into any kind of trouble since the other party is “the bad guy,” as I put it. My mother, who is very conservative, rebuked me. “Why do you tell your boys this stuff? They are too young. Why would you open their eyes to such things?” My answer was, “It is better for me to tell them and keep them safe than for anything to happen and for us all to be sorry.”
One hot Monday morning it was 117 degrees, and I was melting, watching my two boys train. I noticed a man wearing a suit and sitting by the pool. I considered it odd that he was dressed in a suit on a sweltering day, but I assumed he must have been one of the parents of the kids in the pool. After swimming, all the boys went to change in the men’s changing room. This man went to the changing room and abused several of the boys whose parents had never told them anything about abuse. They were not prepared and did not know what to do. That is why it is so important to teach your children about boundaries and personal space. They need to understand that no is a good word.
Schools conduct fire drills, earthquake drills, and all kinds of emergency preparation. What about a sexual abuse drill?
When we train our children how to react in case of abuse, we are protecting them.
Here are three things you can teach your son/ daughter to help protect them from sexual abuse.
- Teach your children that there are private parts that can’t be touched by anyone or shown to anyone:
It is crucial to teach your children that there is something called “good touch” and something called “bad touch.” A good touch makes a person feel happy, safe and protected. A bad touch makes a person feel uncomfortable, ashamed, angry, or dirty.
Teach young children the language they need to talk about their bodies and information about boundaries to help them understand what is allowed and what is inappropriate. These lessons help them know when something isn’t right and give them the power to speak up.
- Teach them that it is their right to say no if someone touches them in a way that offends them or makes them feel uncomfortable
Children are taught to obey adults. They are taught that adults are always right and that they know everything. This is a dangerous message to teach children.
Train your children that if anyone touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable that they need to shout out NO and report it to the mother or caregiver.
We play a game of good touch, bad touch when we train kids. The kid who screams the loudest, ‘I will tell my mother what you’ve done,’ is the winner.
- Teach your children that if they are in doubt, ask.
Trust in reporting is crucial. Train your kids to trust you in small issues. When a child tells you someone touched him/her in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, it might not be abuse: it might just be grandpa who pinched his cheek till it hurt.
When a child reports such an incident, always affirm the child for telling you. Commend the child and tell him/her that they can always trust you and that you will always believe you. Inform them that your home is a safe place.
Then if ever abuse happens, they will feel safe telling you since you did not make fun of or belittle their previous reports.
In Psalm 127:3 we read,
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
Your children are your inheritance from the Lord. What do you do with your earthly inheritance? You invest it, you save it and you protect it.
Do the same with your godly inheritance, your children: invest in them and protect them.
Remember that forewarned is forearmed.
If you have questions, contact us.