Parents educate their children to protect themselves from various dangers. They may say from an early age, “I have to protect your body. I will fasten your seat belt in the car seat”. However, body safety and inappropriate touching are only taught to them at a much later age than the desirable one. Since children are not immune to sexual abuse, it is important to equip them with the knowledge and the right preventative measures.
From the age of two, you can talk to your children about BODY SAFETY. They must understand that their body belongs only to them and that therefore it is important that they take care of it. Paediatricians advise telling them: “IT IS YOUR BODY”. This affirmation makes children realize that they must protect themselves and keep their body safe.
You must encourage your children to express themselves when something is bothering them. In which case, they must learn to say "NO" and even formulate their refusal of a situation. In addition, it is important to teach children not to let anyone look at or touch their private parts, and say NO. Teach them to go away immediately, find someone they trust, and tell the facts.
Avoid giving nicknames to certain parts of the child's body. Children may sense parental embarrassment and associate this with shame. You can teach your children the real names by telling them “these are the terms of the doctor”. This will allow them to talk about these topics more easily.
Although it may seem difficult for some parents to bring up sensitive topics in front of their children, there is more than one way to make it easier. For example, it is possible to talk about it on the way to a medical examination, at bath time or before swimming lessons. There are educational media like children's picture books that can accompany parents' words. It is also possible to seek help from the school counsellor or from a doctor.
Given the increased awareness that child abuse is a potential threat, I have created a booklet for young children, “I Keep My Body Safe”. Parents and educators can use it to teach children crucial and empowering skills for personal body safety.
Ms Clara Benacerraf
Head of Counselling at ICS Madrid and Designated Safeguarding Lead
General Enquiries +34 91 650 2398
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