It is necessary to prepare the child for the possibility that they may be approached by strangers, friends or family: men or women, as adults as well as younger people, that the approach may be completely innocent but may also hold danger for them. In general we can say that there is a fine line to be dealt with if we speak about protecting children from unsafe touches.
It can be dis-advantageous to over-protect children, because they will not get a chance to explore their environment and develop confidence in their own abilities. An example of that is never let a child visit friends. On the other hand, giving a child too little protection will expose him to the danger of being molested, a risk that is quite high in the society in which we live.An example of this is letting your child visit a friend without checking.
Here are some main guidelines in protection against unsafe touches.
Create an environment in which the child is encouraged and in which an emphasis is put on positive behaviour and achievements of the child. Thereby we create a positive self-image in the child.A child that feels worthy knows that he has the right to exist and say NO. A child that feels worthy feels that nobody has the right to hurt him.
Discuss the rights of the children with him/her. Start with the basic rights (food, sleep, love, safety). Teach the child how to cope with a right, but also what it means if it is taken away. When they understand “safety”, let them mention when they feel safe. Tell them they have the right to say NO when their safety is endangered.Tell the child to tell somebody with whom she feels safe if she is in danger.The child must know that she has the right to determine what happens to her body and it must be respected.
For their development children need people who help them to become orientated in the world.In order to achieve that they need:
- Love and security
- New experiences
- Praise and recognition
- Responsibility in order to gain independence
- Respect for rights
- The presence of other
- To be seen and heard
- To trust someone
- To feel useful and welcome
- Tolerance for others feelings
Here are some guidelines in preventing children from molestation:
Safe touches and unsafe touches:
Start off by talking about how they show their love to an animal or someone they love. How do they liked to be hugged, kissed, tickled. Sometimes these touches can be scary (hugging too tight). You have the right to say NO. Say it loud and clearly, or shout when someone touches you and you feel uncomfortable. Teach children to protest whenever somebody hugs or kisses them toward whom they feel that NO feeling. Do not force a child to hug or kiss someone when they greet a friend or family member. Hugs and kisses are accepted by many cultures. Teach children to rely on their own feelings, “how do you feel – happy, sad, scared?” and what can you do when you feel like that? Role-play this.
Teach your child to say NO
Children tend to listen to adults.Teach and give your child the right to say NO when he is feeling threatened. The child must be sensitive to and aware of feeling comfortable (yes-feeling) and uncomfortable (no-feeling). Role-play but avoid creating fear.
Discuss his/her body
Respect for own and another body must be taught.Nobody has the right to look at or touch your body. Play – my body is mine – yours is yours – I control my body – not yours. If you are ill the doctor can touch your body in the presence of your mother. Teach children the correct words for body parts. Parts covered by the swimming costume are special. Teach a child that he can talk about all body parts including genitals.It’s not a part of the body that is not supposed to be there.
It is the genitals that are involved in sexual abuse.If a child cannot discuss these normally they will not be able to tell if somebody is doing something to these parts.Discussing the child’s body must be part of education since birth. Do not overwhelm the child with too much information.
Teach children to like surprises but not secrets.Surprises make you happy when you tell. Secrets are never told. Touching of the body must never be a secret. Let the child tell of surprises that came into the open and how they enjoyed it. Give examples of wrong secrets. Why are they not allowed to discuss it? Is it right or wrong? Nobody has the right to ask you to keep a secret.The child must have a person he trusts with whom he can discuss these secrets.
Let the child make a list of persons they can talk to. A mother, father, aunt, teacher. Can I get to them if I want them? Tell the child he has a right to tell, and a right to seek help. Nobody will blame the child.
Presents versus bribes
Giving presents does not mean asking for a favour. Presents are unconditional, and you don’t have to do anything to obtain them.
Teach children certain rules when they are to be fetched from school, parties, sports etc.By someone else other than the caretaker. There must be a code word. Stick to the rule. If someone asks them to go somewhere, they have to say, “I am going to ask my parents, and I will be back soon”.
GET AWAY, TELL SOMEONE, BE SAFE.
NEVER go with strangers.
NEVER open doors to strangers.
NEVER say that you are at home alone.
NEVER say how late your parents will be.
NEVER to chase after an attacker.
ALWAYS stay two arm lengths from a stranger or a car.
Children must know
Their full name, address and telephone number.
How to make an emergency call.
Know emergency telephone numbers
How to answer the telephone when alone at home:
“My mother is in the bath”, “Is there a message?” “Leave your number”.
Surprise an attacker by running, shouting, kicking the attacker on the knee, stamping hard on the attackers foot.
Some general comments
Do not frighten and confuse the child with too much information. Prevention against abuse should be part of an upbringing and should be mentioned in a playful manner. Create an atmosphere of trust so that the child can share his concerns.
- Evaluate children’s regular walking routes and playing places.
- Explore suspicious comments children may make about an adult, other children, babysitter, etc.
- Be observant. See when they shy away from somebody and do not want to go somewhere alone.
- Do not put names on the outside of children’s clothes, books, and bags. Teach children to answer the phone but not repeat their names/Tel. Number.
Parents must know at all times where their children are.