The very thought that someone can molest your child can be extremely terrifying for any parent. The fear, trauma, and pain that the child may have to experience at such a tender age are definitely a frightening thought to even consider. Just the experience of the thought is enough to freak out any parent who may never want to even think about it again. And of course, all of us would hope that something so terrible would never happen to our beloved child.
But the reality can be a little different. According to data, every 1 girl in 4 girls and every 1 boy in 6 boys are at risk of sexual abuse before they reach the age of 18. More frighteningly, the children who are with disabilities are at 2.9 times higher risk than the children who are without disabilities to be abused sexually.Even with these disturbing statistics, a good majority of young children do not ever report sexual abuse while it is happening. They are generally afraid of how their parents would react or would otherwise have other fears inhibiting them. They may just be incapable of describing what has happened to them or they are just complying with the abuser who threatened or asked them to not talk about it with anyone.
It is just not practical to imagine that you will absolutely be able to protect your child from sexual abuse at all times, but you can take significant actions on your part that make your child less vulnerable to sexual abuse and also improve the chances that they would inform you if anything as such does indeed happen. You only need to directly talk to them regarding this and keep doing it over a period of time.
How to begin discussing sexual abuse with your child?
- You need to construct the conversation you intend to have with your child in a way of loving them. You should begin from a place of love and not a scary place, and this will help build a calm and soothing ambiance for the conversation to take place between you and your child. This will make your words much more accessible to them. If you yourself appear stressed or frightened when talking to your child, they will be primarily registering this fear and not get the essence of the content that you want to convey to them. Hence, talk with them in a casual, calm, and from a loving place when you begin to have these conversations.
- Start early. You should begin this conversation with your children at an early age, ideally as young as when they are 2 years old. It may seem a bit early to some, but you should bear in mind that it is the children who are under the age of 12 years are at the maximum risk when they are 4 years old. Even if a child can speak well, the children this young have just about begun figuring the ways of the world. Beginning with small conversations during activities like bath, play, etc., you can make them more aware of their own body and the things that are right and wrong if someone does it to them.
- Make them aware of the real names of their private parts. When you start teaching your children the names of their different body parts like the ears, nose, eyes, and fingers, make it a point to also teach them the actual names of their private body parts like “penis” and “vagina” and not identify them by their slangs. This provides the children with the correct words to use if there has been an attempt by someone to hurt them. It is also imperative to teach your children about both the male and female body parts since the person attempting to abuse might be of any gender and the child should be able to describe what might have happened to them.
Even if you forget everything else, you need to remember to keep your conversations on sexual abuse with your child a continuous process, in an open and casual environment.
You will not be telling your child only one time to cross the road carefully after looking both sides. You will in all likelihood keep repeating it quite a few times and would probably even ask questions about what they should be doing when they have to cross the road. Talking about sexual abuse or molestation is something very similar, only that you need to begin this conversation from a much younger age and keep changing as your child grows.