By Kathy Kuhl I’ve written before about preparing our children to resist and report abuse and attempted abuse, but the trial of Brock Turner has raised issues that are especially important for our kids who struggle to learn.
Here are 8 ideas to consider to protect your child from abuse:
- Teach boys and girls about body safety. Our children need to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate touching, what to do about it, and how to tell adults. These are delicate but important issues. The best information I’ve seen on how to have these conversations is “The Importance of Teaching Body Safety” an article on the Parenting Special Needs magazine’s website. The author, Jayneen Sanders, whose pen name is Jay Dale, explains, “Just as we teach road safety with a clear, child-friendly and age-appropriate message, the teaching of body safety uses a similar sensitive and age-appropriate technique.”
- Teach kids the concept of private parts, and the names of those parts. The Parenting Special Needs Magazine article cited above includes this, but it is helpful for any parents, not just those with kids with special needs.
- Teach your children to spot tricky adults, as explained in this helpful article. Tricky adults are unfamiliar adults who ask children to help them, for instance. The term “bad guys” may make your child expect masks, scowls, and a sinister appearance. “Tricky adults” includes those who look safe, but do wrong, teaching your child to think about their words and actions.
- Teach children that everyone is to be respected, and no one should be used. Teach boys how to think about and treat girls and women.
In her blog, Ann Voskamp wrote to her four sons, describing a time she witnessed abuse when she was a teen. She and her horrified friends reported it, only to have it ignored. They were told, “Boys will be boys.” Her reply: “The culture of boys will be boys — means girls will be garbage.”
- Teach boys and girls not to look the other way when others do evil. Jay Dale explains that on average, an abused child has to report to three people before he or she is believed. I don’t have statistics on how often a witness must report to be believed. But we must teach our kids to keep talking about what has happened to trusted adults.
- Talk about abuse of alcohol, of drugs, and of power. Ann also wrote her sons, “Real Manhood means you don’t get drunk, and a man can get drunk on a lot more than alcohol.”
- Read the Sanford victim’s letter and consider having older teens read it, or excerpts of it.
- When evil happens, don’t despair. Look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers said. On Facebook, Melanie and Hal Young (Raising Real Men) suggested how parents might help our sons (and I would add, daughters) focus on the heroes of this story, the Swedish grad students who saw the attack and caught the attacker:
This story of two young men who stepped in and rescued a woman who was being raped might spark some good discussion with your older teens. I wouldn’t read the description in the middle from the victim’s letter of how she was exposed (most young men don’t need that image in their heads). It’s important to teach our boys what honorable behavior is–and isn’t. There’s a villain in this story, but there are also heroes.
What tips do you have to help keep our kids wiser and safer? Please answer in the comments section below. If you wish your comment posted anonymously, send it via the contact form, and I’ll consider it.