Happy New Year! Well, it is for parents, kids and teachers. I took August off to record two new videos, which I’m excited to share with you. As a new school year begins it’s a good time to review some basics about touch with your child.
There are three kinds of touch: safe, unsafe and secret. Safe touch makes you fell good, safe and loved. Unsafe touch can make you feel hurt, angry or embarrassed. Secret touch makes you fell weird or confused and involves your private body parts. Encourage your child to always tell a trusted adult if they’ve been touched inappropriately, or they’ve been asked to keep touch a secret.
adapted from Body Smart: Right from the Start (p. 27), by Kerri Isham
Last month we talked about play date and party rules, and how to debrief with your child. This month we’d like to share some facts about abuse that some parents may not be aware of.
Abuse happens in all types of families within all cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. It is not limited to a certain “type” of family. Most parents want the best for their children, but factors like stress and lack of resources sometime compromise a parent’s ability to make good choices about the welfare of their child. Sexual abuse by strangers is rare; 75% – 85% of sexual abuse is perpetrated by a family member.
Most sexual abuse is perpetuated without force or violence. 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Children with disabilities are even more at risk.
Finally, children rarely false report abuse. They speak from experience and cannot make up this information unless exposed to it. Treatment from a mental heath professional can minimize the physical emotional and social problems that may occur after an incident. Treatment helps the child to process feelings and fears around the incident.
*adapted from Body Smart: Right from the Start (Kerri Isham, 2016)
One of the many ways that our children engage with the world is through play dates with other children. Safety begins with some simple rules: -play with clothes on -no touching of private parts -no photos of private parts -you are allowed privacy when bathing, dressing, using the toilet -you have permission to say ‘no’ -we don’t keep secrets; if someone tells you to keep a secret tell an adult.
Here are some questions that you can ask your child to engage in a “safety conversation”* after a play date or party: -Did you enjoy yourself? -How did you spend your time? -What was your favourite part of the play date/party? -What was the least favourite part? -Did you feel safe? -Was there anything else you wanted to share?
This kind of debrief enables your child to share the good things about the play date, and may help them to tell you if something unwanted did happen.
*adapted from Body Smart: Right from the Start, by Kerri Isham (2016)