Teaching Self-Protection

Mothers play a key role in teaching their children how to protect themselves in the future so that risk of future abuse can be minimized. Many times children do not disclose sexual abuse simply because they do not know it is wrong. Mothers can teach their children what abuse is and how to respond if an adult or older children attempts to engage in inappropriate behavior. Children are also afraid in situations where a perpetrator is coercive and threatening. Mothers can help children with strategies to follow if such situations occur. However, sex offenders are highly skilled in manipulation and grooming tactics. Sexual abuse is NEVER the responsibility of the child.  

Some of the important information that children need to learn and understand:
  • The definition of abuse
  • Explanation of good touch and bad touch
  • What a secret is
  • The importance of not holding a secret
  • Who sex offenders are
  • Why they abuse children
  • How to protect themselves from abuse
  • How to tell if they are being abused. 
  • What to do if someone they know is being abused
  • What to do if they are being abused
  • Who to tell if they are being abused
  • What happens after they tell about the abuse

Major areas of focus when teaching a child about self-protection from sexual abuse:

  • Safety - children need information about sexual abuse, recognition of unsafe people, recognition of feelings, and instruction regarding maintaining safety with strangers, community members, and family.
  • Body awareness - children need to know about their bodies, their private parts, and how their bodies function.
  • Communication - children need to know how to express their emotions and how to set boundaries.
  • Sex education - children need accurate age-appropriate information about sexual development, sexual behaviors, and reproduction.
  • Touching - children need information about good and bad touching and privacy.
  • Secrets - children need to understand what secrets are and how to tell a secret when they feel unsafe.
  • Encouragement to tell and not hold secrets - childern need to know that mothers want them to tell secrets and understand why telling secrets helps. 
  • Healthy relationships - children need to understand the difference between  healthy and unhealthy relationships. Children need to learn how to judge people and situations in relationships as safe or not safe.
  • Assertiveness training - children need to learn how to say "no" and how to be heard.
  • Self-defense - children can be taught how to fight back when it is safe to do so.

See Alert List for Children
See Talking with your Child about Sexual Abuse
See Internet Guidelines for Children


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