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There are so many things that can happen to a child, many of them you can't prevent.

 However, there are a few things you can do to educate yourself and your children.

I am a parent:
How can I help my children?


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There are so many things that can happen to a child, many of them you can't prevent. However, there are a few things you can do to educate yourself and your children and hopefully, you will never need the following information.

 

Begin talking about bodies and their correct names immediately. If a child knows the correct words for the parts of their bodies they are better able to communicate when someone touches them. It also makes it less likely that they will be misunderstood. There are many books about bodies and body parts; there are even teaching posters that include most of the names (you can add in the ones that aren't there).

Make sure that there is some kind of ritual around sharing feelings at your house. It could be at the end of the day, when you check in about different times during the day when they felt mad or sad or happy; or it could be once a week at dinner when everyone shares their high and low points of the weeks. This exercise is good because it keeps you in touch with how your children are thinking and also makes it easy for them to come and tell you something scary if it should ever happen. The only caution with this exercise is: be just as glad to hear about happy times as sad or mad times. If you only get excited for the good stuff, they will only share that part with you.

Make sure that children are respected and respectful of body space. Ask permission to hug them, and allow them to say no. This sets up the idea that their bodies belong to them. Never force your child to kiss someone they don't want to or sit on someone's lap when they feel uncomfortable. They can be polite to the adult and not be touched or made to feel uncomfortable.

Teach them about "privates" even when they are little. A good description is anything that is covered by a bathing suit is private. You also need to tell them the exceptions to the privacy rule and who gets to do it. For example: no one may touch your vagina unless they are helping you wash in the bathtub or changing your diaper. Then tell them who is allowed to change their diaper and wash them.

You should teach them about strangers. Go over the fact that a stranger can be anyone (a woman, a child, or a man). Talk to them about never going with someone, even if they say that Mom or Dad sent them. You could teach them a code word but it's really more practical to tell them that if they get scared or if a stranger tries to get them to go somewhere, they can hit, kick, bite, scratch, yell, and run to get away. Role play and practice this like you do for a fire drill. Tell them that there is NEVER a time when an adult NEEDS a child's help. Since many perpetrators use lines about helping to find their lost dog, etc... kids should know immediately that this is not true. Do not let them put their names on barrettes, backpacks, or shoes; this will only enable a perpetrator to call them by name.

You should teach them about strangers but since their assailant will likely be someone they know and loved, you should teach them that sometimes even good people do bad things and that it would be important for you to know that this person needs help. Let them know that this could be a woman or a man or a child.

Use Megan's Law. Megan's Law is the law that requires all convicted sex offenders to register their address with the police department. You can go to the police station and look on the "Megan's Law" computer to find out who is a registered offender in your area. It will show their name, picture, and list their offenses. It will not give you their exact address but it will enable you to recognize any neighbors or friends that might be on the list. Many people fought to make this possible; please utilize this as it could prevent some abuse from happening.

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