Keeping an open line of communication with your kids is key. Use these suggestions as ways to develop a healthy discussion with your children about sexual abuse.
- Use proper or semi-proper names for body parts (penis and vagina), and phrases like: Private parts are "private and special."
- Tell your children that if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts; tries to get them to touch or look at another person's private parts; shows them pictures of or tries to take pictures of their private parts; talks to them about sex; walks in on them in the bathroom; or does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable to tell you or a "support person" as soon as they can.
- Tell your children that some children and adults have "touching problems." These people can make "secret touching" look accidental, and they should still tell you even if they think it might have been an accident.
- Tell your children that touching problems are kind of like stealing or lying, and that the people who have those kinds of problems need special help so they don't continue to have problems or get into trouble. Don't describe it as a "sickness."
- Tell your children that some people try to trick kids into keeping touching a secret. Tell your children, "We don't want those kinds of secrets in our family."
- Give your children examples of things that someone might use to try to get them to keep a secret: candy, money, special privileges, threats, subtle fear of loss, separation, or punishment.
- Make sure they have support people they can talk to at home, at school, in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your home phone and let them know that, if for any reason they cannot talk to you, they should call or go see another support person.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The Polly Klaas Foundation
The Jessica Marie Lunsford Foundation