April 15, 2024

Educate Your Child to Help Prevent Sexual Abuse: Part One

From the time they are born, we educate our children ways in to keep themselves safe. Whether it’s a hot pan, an unknown dog or cat in an alleyway, or that we shouldn’t take candy from strangers. However, children often don’t learn about body safety until much later, like in middle school health classes or assemblies about consent and dating safety. In some situations, this education comes too late. It does seem like a topic for older children. You might believe your child is too young for this. Unfortunately, child sex abuse does not wait until later to happen. Educating early can empower children to protect themselves from being victimized.


Teach Names of Body Parts

A lot of the time, our children learn ‘cutesy’ words to describe their private parts. Some people use ‘cookie’, ‘marshmallow’, or even just ‘bottom’. Ultimately, when children know the words for their body parts they find it easier to ask for help. If a child reports abuse to someone other than a parent who doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘cookie,’ they may not report the abuse, prolonging the child’s trauma. Being okay with the using words like ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’ and knowing what they mean will help your child clearly communicate. It is also important that, as parents, we are comfortable using these words. Our children model our behavior and if you are hesitant to use a word, your child might hesitate as well.

Teach Setting and Respecting Boundaries

Boundaries protect a person’s personal and/or emotional wellbeing. This includes bodily autonomy and consent. Families often teach children about boundaries, but it is proactive to teach them about setting boundaries regarding who can touch them and about touching others. Your child should know that no one should be touching their private parts. That they should  not touch other child’s private parts. That for no reason should someone ask your child to touch their private parts. Sexual abuse can often begin with someone asking your child to touch them or someone else. This lesson goes beyond ‘keeping our hands to ourselves’ as it educates our children that they are also allowed to say no.

Teach Body Parts are Private

Like our tip on setting boundaries, it’s important that your child understands that we call out private parts “private” for a reason. While it is okay to be naked around parents and trusted adults at home, having our clothes off outside of the house is not. Explain how, when we go to the doctor, the doctor may touch your body or private area, but only with a parent around. When we are at the swimming pool, it is okay to not have all of our clothes on, but we should never take our clothes off around strangers. This tip can also be combined with teaching the names of body parts. If your child attempts to take their clothes off in a public space, you can remind them that we keep those body parts private.


These are just three ways to help educate your child. If your child is approached by a predator, they know how to report it. Furthermore, if your child has been abused, they have the vocabulary and knowledge to help them come forward and disclose it. Our actions as parents influence and mold the futures of our children and the more education we provide them, the safe they will be. This type of education can also help children report with confidence. Educated children are safer children.

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Josh Gillispie