EDUCATE, BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!
SMART WAYS TO KEEP CHILDREN SAFE!
Children, by nature, trust people—even people they don’t know. How can you, as a parent, a teacher, or a caring adult, maintain a child’s trusting innocence while also keeping the child safe? By educating children about safe boundaries, and telling them how to distinguish between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ touches, and how to respond appropriately to bad touches! Start talking to your child about good touch bad touch as early as possible so that they are equipped to understand this sensitive issue. Here are a few ways to start you off!
Explain to your child the difference between good touch (hugs and kisses from family members, a pat on the back, a handshake, or a high 5) and bad touch (a hit, slap, punch, kick, bite, hard pinch, shove, or grabbing, tugging, scratching, tripping, or choking).
The Difference between Good Touch and Bad Touch:
One way a child can tell if someone is safe is by observing how the person touches others. Safe friends and adults touch children in safe ways and not in ways that are scary or confusing. You should then explain to your child why these touches are good. They are touches that have a good purpose, are not intended to hurt, and are familiar and safe. For example:
- When Mama gives you a hug or a kiss when you wake up.
- When Papa gives you a good night kiss.
- When grandparents come visiting and everybody gets a hug!
A bad touch, on the other hand, is any touch that is meant to hurt or scare someone. Hitting, punching, tripping, kicking, and spitting are examples of bad touches. In addition to these examples, parents, guardians, or other safe adults must also explain that touching private body parts can also be a bad touch. Tell your child that bad touch makes one feel bad, embarrassed, angry or uncomfortable. For example:
- When someone kicks, hits, pinches or slaps.
- When someone’s touch makes you feel scared or nervous.
- When someone forces you to touch him/her.
- When someone touches you and asks you not to tell anyone.
- Private body parts are the parts you cover with your swimming suit when you go swimming. No one should touch your private parts except your parents or your doctor.
Explain to your child that her/his body is her/his own ‘personal space’. No one has the right to invade one’s space without one’s permission. You have the right to say: “NO! Please don’t touch me”, “Stop! That makes me uncomfortable!” or “Back off! I don’t like that!”
Tell your child that if someone gives her/him a bad touch, s/he should immediately tell:
- Other trusted adults
- And never agree to keep it a secret
Explain to your child how s/he can maintain a safe code by following some simple rules:
- Tell your child not to be alone with anyone who tries to touch in any way that makes you feel uncomfortable.
- Tell your child it’s okay to say ‘No!’ if someone tries to touch you in any way that makes you feel scared or uncomfortable.
- Tell your child to immediately tell someone s/he trusts is someone gives him/her a bad touch.
- Tell your child not to let threats scare you into keeping quiet.
- Tell your child that if someone tries to take you away or approaches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, run, scream and get away.
Communication is necessary to keep children safe. It is difficult for children to talk about abuse— even children who understand and practice touching safety. That’s why you should establish this important point: Your child can tell you about anything that makes him or her feel unsafe—even if someone told him or her to keep it a secret or threatened the child if s/he told. Assure your child that you will listen to her/him and not get angry. By following some simple rules, you can assure that your child is safe and that telling was the right thing to do:
- Let the child talk.
- Avoid displays of shock or disgust.
- Respect the child’s privacy.
- Address the child’s feelings and let him/her know that you trust him/her.
- Be honest with the child about what will happen next.
- Do not scold the child.
- Get counseling/therapy for the child.
5. TELLING CHILDREN THAT IT’S NOT THEIR FAULT.
Explain to your child that if someone gives her/him a bad touch, it is not YOUR fault. The person that touches you in a way you don’t like is the person who’s doing something wrong. So, never blame yourself and do not allow other people to blame you.