‘Body Safety Education — A parents’ guide to protecting kids from sexual abuse’ is a step-by-step guide for parents and carers on how to protect children from sexual abuse through personal Body Safety Education. This guide contains simple, practical and age-appropriate ideas, as well as important information on how abusers groom and signs a child maybe being sexually abused. Body Safety knowledge empowers children. It goes a long way in keeping them safe from sexual abuse, and ensuring they grow up as assertive and confident teenagers and adults. There is no downside! This book is an invaluable guide for parents, caregivers, teachers and healthcare professionals to not only learn the key steps when teaching Body Safety Education (also known as protective behaviours or child sexual abuse prevention education) but to also educate themselves in the signs a child is being sexually abused, what to do if a child bravely discloses, how a predator grooms both the family and the child, valuable organizations and links, etc. In fact, 95% of sexually abused children will know their abuser and only 5% will be strangers. As noted ‘stranger danger’ is not really the issue. Pedophiles and child sex abusers are in our homes and in our families. Part of Body safety Education is teaching children that they must never keep secrets that make them feel bad or uncomfortable (in fact, we teach it’s best not to have secrets in families, only happy surprises). The trouble with secrets is that they are the main tool used by child molesters to ensure children remain silent about the abuse. Ensuring the secret is kept is of utmost importance to the perpetrator. Therefore, threats and insisting no-one will believe the child is used as a way of controlling the child to be silent. Through Body Safety Education parents and children will learn the importance of there being no secrets between us.
Parents and carers need to be on the lookout for signs of sexual abuse in children and grooming behaviour which is often focused on themselves as well as their children. The answer to the question, ‘How do I keep kids safe from sexual abuse?’ is simple; teach them Body Safety Education from a very young age. Always use the correct names for their genitals, ensure they know that the parts covered by their swimsuit are known as their private parts, and that private means ‘just for you’, and consequently not for sharing. This is known as the swimsuit lesson. When you teach your child that ‘your body belongs to you’ you are empowering them with confidence through knowledge.
Body Safety Education also involves teaching your child that no-one can touch their private parts, and if they do, they must tell a trusted adult until believed. Kids need to be safe as well as feel safe. Teaching a child that private means ‘just for you’ and that their private parts are found under their swimsuit is a valuable lesson that can prevent child molestation. The sexual abuse of children is regrettably very common. Approximately 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. You can help stop child abuse by teaching social and physical boundaries to kids and that some parts are not for sharing. A child needs be able to proclaim loudly and with conviction that, ‘My body belongs to me’, ‘I am the boss of my body’ and that ‘From my head to my toes, I say what goes’.
Please note: the author uses ‘safe and unsafe touch’ or ‘inappropriate touch’ as preferred terms for good and bad touch which may be confusing for a child as bad touch (inappropriate touch) can often feel good, i.e. be pleasurable and this can cause confusion for a child.