The topic of sexual violence is a very sensitive and difficult topic to discuss but it is so important that parents take the time to teach their children good safety measures. Take the time to talk to your children about sexual violence. Discuss relationship boundaries and personal safety.
Start when your children are young...
Children are so trusting, so it is important they have an understanding of their bodies, privacy and appropriate boundaries.
Teach them the names of their body parts and consistently use this language. This clears up any confusion if a child is to describe an incident.
Discuss privacy of body parts. When it is appropriate (health exams) and inappropriate for these body parts to be seen or touched.
Teach them to say "NO" to these invasions of privacy and that they never deserve to be treated this way. Tell them to report it to a trusted adult right away.
Reassure them they will not be "in trouble" for letting someone know.
Encourage them to care for others by reporting an incident done to any other child as well.
Never disregard what a child says about an incident!
Protecting your older child...
A Relationship that Cares
Always seek to develop and maintain a good relationship with your child. Show and verbalize that you care about their everyday activities. When a good relationship is already in place, your child is more prone to discuss the hard topics with you. Make sure they know, no matter what they do you will always be there to listen and help them through things.
Know the People they Spend Time With
Get to know everyone that your child interacts with and speak openly about them.
Discuss Healthy Relationships
Talk about the basic human needs of love and acceptance and the healthiest ways of meeting those needs. Discuss the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Teach them how to set relationship boundaries and have an accountability partner.
Develop Strong Self-Worth
Teach them their worth as an individual with a unique personality and set of gifts that can be utilized to benefit the world around them. Help them to realize this will always be true no matter what others may say or think. Discuss the danger of peer pressure.
Use the News as a Teaching Tool
When stories of sexual violence are covered use them as a teaching tool. Ask them "How would you respond in that situation?" Use it as a review of what to do and not do in a situation.
These discussions can be even more challenging as your children become teenagers but continue to be just as important.