Hesperian Health Guides
Preventing sexual abuse
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- 1 To help your child learn about his or her body
- 2 To help your child understand about his or her private body parts
- 3 To help your child learn to say 'no'
- 4 To help your child understand that he or she does not always have to obey bigger people
- 5 To help your child understand about secrets
- 6 Respect your child's growing need for privacy while bathing or dressing
To help your child learn about his or her body
A child about 18 months old can begin to learn the names of parts of the body.
When your child is between 3 and 5 years old, teach about the genitals and other private parts of the body and about the differences between boys' and girls' bodies.
Teaching can happen naturally, for example, while your child is bathing. Children who are blind or have vision problems may need extra help learning about the parts of the body. See about body awareness activities that will help. Using realistic dolls may also be helpful to teach about body parts.
To help your child understand about his or her private body parts
Explain that some parts of the body are more private than others. Explain that people should not touch your child's genitals or private parts, and your child should not touch the private parts of others, even if asked to.
Also, remember to explain that not all sexual abuse involves touch.
To help your child learn
to say 'no'
Help your child trust his feelings and encourage him to talk to you about
what he feels.
Help your child practice saying 'no.' First, try making up situations in which a child may want to say 'no.'
Later, talk about saying 'no' and where your child can get help.
To help your child understand that he or she does
not always have to obey bigger people
Teach your child that she should shout 'no, no,' scream, bite and struggle if an adult or older child tries to assault her.
To help your child understand about secrets
Talk about secrets that are OK and not OK.
Explain to your child that if someone threatens her to keep her from talking about something, she must tell you. An abuser may say things like This is our secret. If you tell anyone, I will kill you or kill the person you told. And I will tell everyone about the bad things you did. Reassure your child that nothing bad will happen if she talks to you. A child needs to know that an abuser makes these threats because he is doing something bad, not the child.
Respect your child's growing need for privacy while bathing or dressing
A blind child may find it hard to understand the idea of private body parts because he or she needs help in so many everyday activities. But you can encourage your child to tell you when he or she does not want help.