Hesperian Health Guides

Preventing sexual abuse

Every day 20,000 people visit the HealthWiki for lifesaving health information. A gift of just $5 helps make this possible!

Make a giftMake a gift to support this essential health information people depend on.

HealthWiki > Helping Children Who Are Blind > Chapter 12: Preventing Sexual Abuse > Preventing sexual abuse

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.

a woman sits beside a young child who is bathing.

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.

a woman speaking to 2 children.
No one else should touch your private parts. If someone asks you to touch places that are private, that is wrong.
Also if someone is talking to you about private things or asking you to watch private things, that is wrong, too.
a woman speaking with a child.
Have you ever wanted to stay away from some children because you felt they were going to harm you?
When you have those feelings about the way someone is treating you, come talk to me about it.

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.

Ask your child to tell you or another adult right away if someone asks him to do anything he feels uncomfortable doing.

Help your child practice saying 'no.' First, try making up situations in which a child may want to say 'no.'

a woman speaking to a child.
Norma was on her way to school and a boy came along and pushed her down. How did Norma feel? What could she do about it?
a woman speaking to a child.
You can say ‘no’ to other children who want to touch your body. Yell ‘no’ over and over and fight back until they stop.
Some people don’t respect the rules about no touching. Where could you go for help if I am at work? How about your Aunt Rose? Or Lisa’s mother? Who else?

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

a woman speaking with a child.
Suppose an adult tells you to go outside and play in the traffic. Must you do it?
Why not?

Teach your child that she should shout 'no, no,' scream, bite and struggle if an adult or older child tries to assault her.

a woman speaking to a child.
If someone bothers you, you should shout and struggle so other people will know you need their help.

To help your child understand about secrets

Talk about secrets that are OK and not OK.

a woman speaking to a child.
If we don’t tell Jean that Grandma is coming for her birthday, it is an OK kind of secret.
But we don’t keep secrets about the private parts of our bodies. Be sure to tell me if anyone wants to touch your private parts.

a woman speaking to a child.
Sometimes a person may say that if you tell a secret, something bad will happen or they will hurt you. If this happens, it is very important for you to tell me.

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.

a child and a man speaking as she goes into a latrine.
Don't come in.
OK, Lora, I'll

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.