Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time to Teach Body Safety to Our Kids

13 October 2013

Today's posting is a guest column by an associate, Jayneen Sanders [aka Jay Dale], who is an expert on child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse is a significant societal problem and often a contributor in marital discord. Parents should inventory their proactive efforts to prevent child sexual abuse within their family. I recently wrote about how Most Parents Encourage Sexual Abuse of Their Children. I suggest that you read it also. But first, Jay Dale -

With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys being sexually abused before their 18th birthday and with 93% of them knowing their perpetrator, it is time sexual abuse prevention education (also known as ‘body safety’) was taught in our homes and our schools.

As parents and teachers, we happily instruct children in road safety and water safety; we teach about stranger danger, and with older children we teach them about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. But my concern, as both a mother and a teacher, has always been with our little ones — I’m talking about children from 3 to 10 years of age. And in particular, younger children who just want to be good and do what the ‘big person’ says which includes keeping secrets. I believe we can reduce these horrific statistics, if we just teach body safety to the kids in our care. Knowledge is powerful and forewarned is forearmed!

Simply put, the message to children is: your body is your body and no-one has the right to touch it, and if they do, you must tell someone you trust and keep on telling until you are believed. And the lesson for us as parents and teachers is we need to believe children. A child’s voice is important and if we dismiss a disclosure or and indicator that something is not right, that child may never tell again.

Teaching body safety is not rocket science. It can be simple, non-threatening but the knowledge a child gains from such instruction is very powerful. This knowledge just may prevent a child from a lifetime of ongoing trauma. Too often I have heard survivors of childhood sexual abuse say — if only someone had told me it was wrong, I would never have kept the secret and spoken up.

Perpetrators do rely heavily on the child keeping their ‘little secret’. They will threaten, blackmail and use whatever means it takes, to ensure the secret is kept by the child. If the secret is exposed, they are exposed. Therefore the keeping of ‘the secret’ is paramount to the abusers. That is why, as part of educating children in body safety, we need to ensure they know that keeping secrets that make them feel uncomfortable and activate their ‘early warning signs’ must be told! In body safety education we instruct children to know the difference between surprises, such as not telling Granny about a birthday present, and secrets that make us feel bad and uncomfortable.

Story is an excellent medium to talk to children about difficult topics, such as inappropriate touch and secrets. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept was written so parents and educators had a platform to teach body safety to kids. It is a beautifully illustrated and sensitively broaches the subject in a non-threatening way. The book’s focus reinforces that ‘some secrets should never be kept’, even though the perpetrator is telling the child otherwise. This part of body safety education is paramount. A child must never be voiceless just because they are a child. They must be educated to know their rights in relation to their body and to always speak up when, and if, they are touched inappropriately — no matter what the abusers has threatened. The crucial lesson to adults is to always listen and believe the child. If you go to you will find lots of information, for example, ‘Body Safety Skills — a Guide for Parents and Carers’ a powerful but simple ‘body safety’ song to teach to young children, and many more resources to assist you in the implementation of sexual abuse prevention education.

Jayneen Sanders (aka Jay Dale) is a teacher, mother of three daughters and lead author for ‘Engage Literacy’. She is also the author of the children’s picture book ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ and supporting teacher’s pack. For more information on this topic go to

If your clients' case involves allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.

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