As a parent, you can practice several techniques with your children to help them understand child sexual abuse and what they must do to protect themselves. First, establish clear family rules for safe touches and repeat them often. Children learn best when they have simple rules that they hear over and over. Take an open and natural approach to the subject by including "touching" rules when you talk about other types of safety. Also, remember that younger children require simpler explanations than older kids. Address each child in an age-appropriate way and make sure each one understands the lessons you’re trying to teach.
The "What-if" game
One way to practice the rules for safety is by role-playing different scenarios. You can call it the "What-if" game and make it easy and fun to practice responding to dangerous situations. Add to this list with "what-ifs" of your own.
- What if someone touches you (even someone you know) in a way you don't like and offers you something you really want such as candy or a toy to keep it secret? (Answer: Say "no" and tell someone what happened.)
- What if someone touches you (even someone you know) in a way you don't like and says they will hurt you or someone you love if you tell anyone? (Answer: Say "no" and, even if you are really scared, tell someone what happened.)
- What if someone is bothering you at school or in the neighborhood? Who should you tell when I'm not there? (Answer: Tell your teacher, your babysitter, child care provider, school nurse, another parent or a police officer.)
- What if someone you tell doesn't believe you or gets mad at you? (Answer: Keep telling people until someone does believe you, and tell me. I will always believe you.)
- What if a grown-up gives you a big hug or touches you in any other way and it makes you feel bad or creepy? (Answer: Tell the person you don't want to be hugged. You can trust your feelings about the way people touch you.)
- What if an adult does something to you that's wrong and then tells you that it was your fault? (Answer: Don't believe the person. Children can't cause adults to do things that are wrong. Tell me what happened. If I'm not there, tell your teacher, school nurse, another parent or a police officer.)