Talking to your children about sex abuse; what you need to know
Sexual abuse is an issue that we as parents cannot afford to ignore. The experiences a child goes through at a tender age tends to stick with the child forever. You may not know this, but there could be a real possibility that your child is being abused sexually. Primary school children in particular face the biggest risk of being sexually exploited by someone they know.
There are dangers everywhere which is why it is incumbent upon us as parents to know the people who come into contact with our children, and not to let assumptions about stature, religion, or wealth get in the way of proper assessment and parental instinct.
Communication can help break or prevent sexual abuse, and a quick conversation you have with your child can make a huge difference. By talking about it, you are taking the first steps to keeping your child safe.
The following are useful points to note, when talking to your child about sexual abuse;
Plan a specific time to sit down with your child to discuss sexual abuse.
Have this conversation somewhere that your child feels comfortable.
Do not ask your child about child abuse in front of the person you think may be abusing the child.
Explain to your child that God made their body very special. Every part of their body is good, but some parts of their body are private.
Clearly show your child which parts of their body are private. If your child is young, consider doing this during their bath time.
Tell them what to expect and what is or is not appropriate behavior to expect from others. E.g. 'good touch, bad touch,'
Let your child know they must tell you if anyone touches them in the private areas, no matter who the person is, or what the person says to them.
Tell your kids that they should not feel bad about it if they have been touched inappropriately or have been abused. They also should not worry about hurting an adult's feelings by telling a parent or other caregiver.
Follow up on whatever made you concerned. If there was something your child said or did that made you concerned, ask about that.
Talk with your child about secrets. Sometimes abusers will tell children that sexual abuse is a secret just between them. They may ask the child to promise to keep it secret. When you talk to your child, talk about times that it is okay not to keep a secret, even if they made a promise.
It is possible that when you have this important conversation with your child, he or she may reveal that some inappropriate contact has previously or is currently occuring. You should listen closely to what your child is saying, but avoid asking too many questions. Sometimes children may provide information that may or may not be true, even if you are in doubt, let your child know that you believe them and love them.
If you suspect that your child is being sexually abused, confide in a trusted family member or other trusted authority and come up with the appropriate action plan to deal with the situation. You may involve the Nigerian Police as a last resort.
While parents, may never be able to completely eliminate the possibility that a child is sexually abused, parents can empower their children through observation and a simple conversation. A brief conversation with a child can save a lifetime of pain.