Talk about It
Keep calm and talk about child sexual abuse
By Lala Fogarty
Talking about child sexual abuse is one of the greatest tools we have to combat it. When we keep open the lines of communication for our children, we equip them with tools to protect themselves. People who sexually abuse children count on their silence, count on their inability to talk about it and count on your lack of involvement. So talk about it, keep talking about it and realize that talking openly with your children about personal safety and boundaries means they will come to you as their primary source of information and protection.
The “talk” about child sexual abuse isn’t really a “talk” at all, but an open and running dialogue, and not merely a onetime event. Give your children the tools they need – proper language to talk about sex and sexual abuse and your permission to do so. Here are some guidelines from Darkness to Light on talking with your children to ensure their safety:
Talk with your children when they are young and use proper names for body parts.
Tell your children, “No one can touch your private parts, those are yours.”
Tell children, “It’s not ok for someone to show you their private parts.”
Tell children to trust gut feelings.
Tell children it is not okay for others to use sexual words with them or to act in a sexual way.
Explain that secrets can be harmful. If someone asks them to keep a secret they should tell you about it.
Ask children about their online experiences and learn about the sites and services they use.
Review safety and touching boundaries anytime a child is in a new situation.
Speak and listen calmly. It’s important that the child feel safe and loved in all of these discussions.
Talking about sexual abuse sheds light on a topic that thrives on being kept in the dark, and hidden. The more we talk about it, the more light we shed, and the safer all of our children are. Here’s to hope that more of us begin living in the light.