It is your job as a parent to teach your child lessons that will keep them safe. We often teach our children at a very young age not to touch a stove when it is hot and never cross a street without looking both ways. However, safety lessons pertaining to their bodies should be taught just as early in life.
Teach That it’s Okay to Enforce Boundaries
Your child should understand they have the right to decide and enforce boundaries pertaining to their own body. Many times, we inadvertently communicate to children they do not have this right because they must subject themselves to the will of adults. Be blunt in your explanation to your child that no one is allowed to touch their private parts. They should also understand that they do not have to touch anyone else.
Train Kids Not to Be Alone with Adults
Your child should understand that they should not be in situations where they are alone with adults. Explain to your child that if a situation occurs where they must be alone briefly with an adult to use their instincts and leave the situation immediately if they do not feel comfortable. Your child should also understand that this rule holds true for adults who hold 'authority positions. Many schools and organizations are implementing policies along the same lines, although many critics feel these measures should have been taken a long time ago. The Boy Scouts of America has famously implemented a policy to avoid one-on-one contact with scouts. Yet, hundreds of victims of abuse are now involved in a class-action lawsuit against the BSA.
Use Code Words
Once your child is old enough to understand the concept, the two of you should develop a code word he or she can use when they are feeling unsafe. The code word could be used while at home and other adults are visiting the house or when they are away from the home. This can be a great way for your child to communicate that they are feeling unsafe without being too obvious about it. It will also allow you to address a situation quickly because it’s a quick way for you to be aware of anything inappropriate that’s going on.
Apply Age-Appropriate Self-Defense Techniques
Taekwondo is an excellent self-defense strategy for your child to learn. The martial art will teach your child to be more confident, develop leadership skills, and establish personal integrity. While at it, your child will develop the tools to defend themselves from unwanted advances from adults, as well as, other children.
Providing your child with the tools to protect themselves from sexual abuse is as important as the many other safety lessons you must teach to them. If your child is able to engage in dialogue with you, it is not too early to begin teaching them what they need to know about the subject. You can start by considering the four safety tips mentioned in the article.