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How do you teach 'stranger'/body safety?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

First, let me explain. I do not believe only strangers are a danger, I just needed an easy title that was related to my concern.

 

How do you teach your child about being safe in the care of others? Knowing that their uncle, teacher, coach, etc could be a child predator, as well as a stranger in the bathroom, how do you make sure your child is safe away from you? My children have no idea that bad things can happen to kids at the hands of adults. The last thing I want to do is instill fear or give them nightmares. But as they are now asking to use the public bathroom alone, going to classes without me, changerooms, they need to be aware. I ws abused by strangers in my school and at the public pool, and my fear, shame, embarassment and shyness are what kept me from stopping them. My kids are just as shy as I was. My children are very comfortable with their bodies, my and their Dad's bodies.They know the correct names for their parts and see us naked daily (I say his regarding the lack of shame or tabo-topic scenario in our home). Now what?

 

Thanks.

 

post #2 of 16

There's a good children's book written by Debi Pearl that teaches kids what is and is not appropriate contact and what to do about it: http://www.amazon.com/Samuel-Learns-Yell-Tell-Predators/dp/1616440163/ref=sr_1_9?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297114906&sr=1-9

post #3 of 16

I look forward to other mom's replies to this one.  This is such a delicate issue, and so very important! I just recently found out about several girls in my family being abused and it really boils my blood. I, thankfully, did not go through that experience, but sometimes I wonder what could the parents have done differently? Any tips for preparing kids without making them fearful or paranoid would be great.

post #4 of 16

I am also very interested in this discussion...  I was inappropriately "fondled"  (honestly I am still in a place of healing where I don't know what to call it) a handful of times..  I do not want this repeated..  My children see us naked on a regular basis and we do not encourage shame of our bodies whatsoever..  I do however talk about our private parts of our body--anatomically correct names--that others should never touch..  I dont know if that's a good thing, but it's a comfortable start for me..

post #5 of 16

I checked out a book from our library last summer, and now, for the life of me, I can't remember title or author. It was about this issue, and what I loved about it is that it was totally non-threatening  - the focus is really about respecting your body and what feels ok and what does not feel ok. It explained that there may be situations in which you do not feel comfortable, and it's ok to say, no, and if pushed, to say "It's my body!" The examples were a variety of situations that may happen in everyday life, like being asked for a hug from a family member, to less frequent but still potentially dangerous situations. Anyway, I loved it because it was teaching them that it is their body and they can say yes or no to any type of touch. In the situations the children are pushed, even by family member (ie, "oh come on, I'm your auntie, I want a hug" or something like that), and they can say, "it's my body!" Anyway, we've been practicing that with my kids ever since we've read the book. 

 

I wouldn't say it's the only education you should do with your children, but I felt it was a great way to introduce the subject and just a great lesson about speaking up for themselves. I really wish I could remember the name, but I think it's something you can teach even without a book.

 

Also, a resource that I have heard about but need to do some more looking into is the Birds+Bees+Kids site, which is about sexuality and talking to your kids. She's got workshops and DVDs and more, and under her resource section has links to other sites that deal with sexual abuse: http://www.birdsandbeesandkids.com/resources/index.html#Sexuality

 

My kids are now 3 and 7 (as of a week ago) and I know I need to do more education about this topic, so I'm interested in what others have done as well.

 

Lisa

post #6 of 16

There was a video put out by the lady who started Baby Einstein and Adam Walsh's Dad.  If you google it, you should find it.  We had it at one time... I can see it in my mind...but can't remember the title.  Stranger something.  OK, googled it... http://www.thesafeside.com/

 

We basically tell our kids that nobody should touch them in the bathing suit area.  We also say that if somebody tells you not to tell Mommy or Daddy something...or threatens that they'll hurt us if they tell...then that means that they should tell us. 

 

Honestly, we don't make a big deal out of it--but have gotten these lessens through.  

 

Ask your local children's librarian for suggestions.  They are usually a great source of info.  Also, sometimes police stations will have free safety booklets/coloring books and stuff.

post #7 of 16

My kids LOVE that video - I think it's well made and very attention grabbing to children!  Our local librarian suggested the BabyEinstein/Walsh video when my oldest was 3 and youngest 1.  Oldest loved it so much we bought it.  They beg to watch it and both, now 2.5 & 4.5 can easily apply the concepts in real life situations and have used terms like "safe side adult" etc.

Highly recommend it! 

 

 

post #8 of 16

Subbing. Happened to find this video on amazon as well http://www.amazon.com/Stranger-Smart-VHS-Various/dp/6303954545/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1297175690&sr=8-1

 

 My local lib carries both the above dvd and this video. My concern is with strangers but moreso with people dd knows and has learned to trust.

post #9 of 16

Have you read "protecting the gift"?  

 

http://www.amazon.com/Protecting-Gift-Keeping-Children-Teenagers/dp/0440509009

 

 

I think thats a good place to start

post #10 of 16

My family has multiple generations of sexual abuse in our history, and I have three daughters, so this is a subject that I am very passionate about. The best resource I have found is a book called "The Swimsuit Lesson." The basic premise is that anything covered by your swimsuit are "special areas" and children should come and tell Mom & Dad if anyone touches their special areas. Jon Holsten, the author, is a police detective on our local force. I have heard him speak several times, and he is great. He is a father of 6, and is so passionate and well-educated about this subject. You can find his website at www.theswimsuitlesson.com

 

The problem of sexual abuse is big and scary, but there are things that parents can do to protect their children. The first is to realize that we as parents are not helpless. Empowered parents step up and open their mouths. That is what our kids need more than any particular program or book - they need us to talk to them about it, on an ongoing basis, without fear. Second, we need to know the facts. Sexual abuse very rarely happens at the hands of strangers. More than 80% of sexual abuse comes from family members or people in a position of trust. We need to teach our children to listen to their gut if they feel uncomfortable with someone, and to feel free to come and talk to us about their feelings and fears. As a parent, it is so important to watch how our children react to people in their lives. If they act fearful about being left with someone, we need to investigate why.

 

Also, it may not be the best idea to teach our children that no one should touch their special/private places. There are times when they need to be examined/cared for by parents or doctors. I remember being terribly traumatized when I had to have a pelvic exam at 12 years of age, after a lifetime of being told no one should ever touch my privates. I tell my kids that no one should touch their special places except for Mommy, Daddy and Dr Jeff. I also tell them that sometimes we have to look or touch to help them. Finally, I encourage them to come and talk to me if ANYONE touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable EVER. This means that my daughters have come to me to tell me that Papa touched their rear end - while he was wiping them from going potty. I told them how proud I was of them for coming to talk to me, and I explained that this was an okay reason to touch because Papa was trying to help clean them, then I repeated that I want them to come tell my ANY TIME they feel uncomfortable with the way someone has touched them.

 

Finally, we need to understand that sexual offenders are very likely to be repeat offenders. I am all for mercy and grace, but I have no intention of trusting my children around anyone who has a history of sexual offense. You may be able to look at a database of sex offenders online; however, those often only contain felony sex offenders. Our local sheriff's office has a binder (actually 3 binders) that shows pictures, locations and convictions for every sex offender in our area - major or minor. It is worth a call to your local police and sheriff departments to see if there is something similar in your area. You also might ask if there is someone who does education classes/presentations for parents. Detective Holsten's presentations were literally life-changing for me.

 

Anyway, I hope some of these ideas help. I think the most important thing we can do is to take a deep breath and find something to do. Don't let yourself be paralyzed by the enormity of what could happen. You can change your kids' life for the better - I know my parents did!

 

Cheers,

Sarah

post #11 of 16


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KnitScrapSew View Post

My family has multiple generations of sexual abuse in our history, and I have three daughters, so this is a subject that I am very passionate about. The best resource I have found is a book called "The Swimsuit Lesson." The basic premise is that anything covered by your swimsuit are "special areas" and children should come and tell Mom & Dad if anyone touches their special areas. Jon Holsten, the author, is a police detective on our local force. I have heard him speak several times, and he is great. He is a father of 6, and is so passionate and well-educated about this subject. You can find his website at www.theswimsuitlesson.com

 

So, my daughter doesn't wear a bikini. If someone touches her stomach, covered by her one piece swimsuit... I don't think its okay to have your kid repelling at the slightest touch. Instead, I gave my kids the power of language. My two year olds knew the real names for their body parts. Yes, this makes some people cringe but it works wonders.....labia, vulva, scrotum, penis, breasts,etc and so forth.. even anus. "So and so touched my chest" is way different than "so and so pinched my nipple". 

 

I also enrolled my teen daughter in a Women Strength program put on by local law enforcement. It teaches you how to fight dirty and get away from the bad guys.

 

I do like parts of the Protecting the Gift book. He tips you off about body language and listening to your instincts.

post #12 of 16

I heard a woman (who's name escapes me) about this very issue. It was amazing!  She talked about how "stranger danger" teachings of the past (think 1980's) really set up kids to be in more danger.  A few key points I remember:

 

- Use the language of "surprises" instead of "secrets" for things like birthday presents because predators ask their victims to "keep secrets" and kids think it is important to keep secrets. 

 

- Teach children that it is okay NOT to do what adults tell them.  Often parents tell their children to "Do whatever the babysitter tells you to do" - by teaching your children that it is okay NOT to do something that doesn't feel right.

 

- Listen to your children - believe what they are saying.  In the past, we have told children to "run away" and "tell an adult" if someone tries to touch and grab.  Often the predator isn't a stranger and is someone your child knows, so they can't run away (which is why the previous point is important to)  and adults often don't believe children so listen to your children and believe them!

 

- Teach your children the correct terms for the parts of their bodies.  Elbows and noses we teach the names for, but then we feel uncomfortable to teach them penis, testicles, anus, labia, vagina, breast, nipple.  A child with the correct language is empowered.  Also teach them that they can touch these parts, but others cannot. 

 

I wish I could remember everything else that speaker said.. and her name... but I can't. 

 

best.

post #13 of 16

Oh... one other thing. 

 

-When your child is lost or in danger, teach them to find another mama or papa to help them - look for a parent with young children.  In the past, people would teach children to find a person in uniform.  Uniforms are worn by many people in various positions... not all people who wear uniforms are safe.  Moreover, uniforms can be purchased and worn by someone who is a predator. 

 

best

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Queermama View Post

Oh... one other thing. 

 

-When your child is lost or in danger, teach them to find another mama or papa to help them - look for a parent with young children.  In the past, people would teach children to find a person in uniform.  Uniforms are worn by many people in various positions... not all people who wear uniforms are safe.  Moreover, uniforms can be purchased and worn by someone who is a predator. 

 

best

 

Great posts (this and your previous one). :)  We've told our kids to look for a mommy or daddy with kids as well and ask for help...because it's hard to imagine a parent turning away from a child who needs help.
 

post #15 of 16

I really like Meg Hicklin's book, Speaking of Sex (Amazon, about $10.) She says it's important to initiate discussions on body parts as soon as the child can talk, or earlier, especially because statistically an offender is more likely to be someone the child already knows and trusts:

 

 

"Knowledge is protection...Offenders become very skillful at choosing vulnerable chidren. If a child knows appropriate sexual vocabulary, the offender knows that some enlightened adult, usually the parent, has taught him...Because these children know that it's okay to discuss sex with their parents, they are far more likely to tell their parents if someone tries to take advantage of them.
 
"This is why sexually intrusive people will almost always choose a victim who knows nothing and hence, will not tell either. The silence on the part of the parent has become a powerful message not to talk about it.
 
"What we are teaching children is 'body science.' They may never have sexual intercourse, but they will always have bodies to care for, and sexual health is not different than nutritional health."
 
She also says that the earlier you address these issues, the earlier you resolve questions, so that really awkward "talk" doesn't have to be so awkward.
 
 
The book is a quick read and very useful.
post #16 of 16

i started at 3. because my super independent child loved doing things by herself and wanted some space between us even at the grocery store. so she wanted to help with grocery by walking to the end of the aisle to get that thing, while i was at the other end. 

 

that was perfect time for us to do the talk. 

 

however my dd had already gotten used to my 'limits' parenting instead of no. so she would follow the rules to a t. 

 

she wasnt allowed to take anything from anyone without asking me first. 

 

she wasnt allowed to go with anyone without first asking me.

 

no one was allowed to touch her private parts without her permission. not even me or her dad. 

 

if anyone tried to do ANYTHING against her wish she was to run screaming as loud as she could FIRE. however i said this because i found dd has a VERY good instinct of picking out people. and i trusted that. 

 

so the talk wasnt a sit down all at once talk. instead ok if you want some distance from me - this is what you have to do to get that from me. you break it you dont get it because its for your safety. 

 

so our talk happened in bits and pieces at various locations. i never wanted to make it a big deal but to make it a natural thing without drawing too much attention to it and freaking dd out. which is why i never chose books to read to. 

 

i've never really done the who to ask for help. we usually have been at places where dd knows someone. and the one time seh was lost was when at a park she was playing at a place. while at fairs i've told her to wait at a certain place if she lost me (under a giant flag that was easy to spot which is what she did at 4). by 5 she had figured out to go to the lost and found. she found a mom to help her (the mom told me dd wasnt scared at all - she just needed to know where it was) one reason why i have not really done this is because she has a GREAT instinct for people. and i have ALWAYS trusted her judgement. even with strangers. because i remember i used to be that way and my mom never trusted me and later actions proved my instincts always right. 

 

ughh the upshot of that is at 6 i had to tell her she is old enough now NOT to ask me all the time. by 7 she had to make the decision if she should eat the candy or not. coz its her body, she knows more about it and so she should make the decision if its healthy for her or not. she has done pretty good. 

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