How to prevent child sexual abuse
According to Save the Children, 23% of girls and 15% of children living in Spain they suffer sexual abuse at least once before reaching 17 years of age . The percentages are especially serious considering that a large part of these episodes are hidden, since they frequently occur within the family, and therefore are not captured in the statistics.
These worrisome figures, added to the harmful effects of this kind of experiences, have served to make a large number of parents and caregivers in general have become very aware of this problem.
However, knowing that cases of sexual abuse exist and that should be avoided is not enough if you want to do everything possible to avoid them. This is the topic that we will address in this article.
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Keys to prevent sexual abuse in boys and girls
The first thing we must understand when developing a strategy to avoid child sexual abuse is that, although the youngest can not yet understand many things about life, from its early years you are already trained to learn many more abstract ideas than we think . You just have to understand the kind of logic by which they are governed.
Thus, the work of fathers and mothers should not consist in restricting the movements of their sons and daughters, but educating them so that they understand certain concepts that will allow them to assimilate the idea that they send over their body and whoever wants to touch it or see it in certain ways is going to need a good excuse and act in a very specific context.
Let's see what these lessons are adapted for the child population.
1. Warn about strangers is not enough
As a large number of cases of sexual abuse occur within the domestic and family environment, warning about the dangers of relating to complete stranger adults and without the supervision of parents or teachers is necessary, but not sufficient. Having this clear allows us to have a more complete view about the possible flanks from which this kind of violations may occur.
That's precisely why the next point makes sense.
2. Talk about sexuality from an early age
Sex has always been a taboo subject, but if what is wanted is that children are prepared to identify sexual abuse as such, it is necessary that they learn some basic notions about this facet of life. Educating boys and girls on this issue is not harmful for them at any age, on the contrary.
That's why you should talk about this topic in a clear and didactic way, avoiding formulas to shift attention to another topic that has nothing to do with sexuality, and using simple and non-masking concepts, such as "penis" and "vagina". This will serve to avoid being manipulated from magical thinking, for example, by making them believe that the genitals are like a button that activates objects.
In the same way, it is appropriate to tell them about the abuse and the existence of people who take advantage of their position of power to deceive the little ones with strange arguments to see or touch parts of their bodies.
As to what time is indicated to begin to prevent children against sexual abuse, the answer is simple: as soon as possible, and to the extent that they understand the message. Obviously, children of less age will not be able to capture all the nuances of this phenomenon, but that does not mean that they can not assimilate anything of what they are told . It is important to be understood in a clear and straightforward manner, adapting the explanation with a focus on their degree of understanding and not on anything else.
3. Help them understand the idea of "private parties"
Knowing how to discriminate the moments in which it is appropriate to touch them and those that do not depend much on whether they know the concept of "private parts" of the body, those that cover the underwear.
Something as simple as teaching this concept helps to have a fairly clear criterion about situations that may be the beginning of sexual abuse. However, also it is necessary to educate children in common sense , and to name the exceptional cases in which an adult can touch those areas: in the cases in which hygiene demands it, and when it is time to pass a medical examination by a professional specialized in health. No adult should play with them.
4. Educating in a fair way
Preventing child sexual abuse also means educating boys and girls who do not get used to not having decision-making power. The attitude of avoidance of problems that is often produced by very strict education styles and full of norms and punishments is something that facilitates the appearance of the fear of saying "no".
That is why it is positive to always explain why certain actions are not allowed, instead of responding with punishments that do not allow us to understand what is happening . Once the children have begun to have clear the behaviors that can do and those that do not, it is much more difficult to be manipulated by the fear of retaliation in case of disobedience. Submission is bad for all parties involved.
5. Not compelling to kiss and hug
In family meetings and meetings with friends, it is very common for fathers and mothers to order their youngest children to greet with affectionate signs people who, in fact, may be distrustful for being unknown.
This kind of action clashes head-on with the idea of sovereignty over their own bodies that they are trying to transmit to prevent child sexual abuse , and that's why it's better to avoid them.
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