The parenting nightmare that keeps me up at night rotate on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s worrying about my boys being bullied or becoming bullies; other times it’s car accidents, or worrying that they’ll manage to choke on a piece of play clay or wedge cashews up their noses. This week, it’s one that’s pretty core shaking: child sexual abuse.
This summer, local news channels were filled with stories about a teacher’s aid at a local childcare center charged with doing terrible things to little three and four year old girls. I can’t even bring myself to write down more, but you can guess.
The statistics about childhood sexual abuse are frightening, with one in four girls and one in six boys abused before age 18. It’s not something I want to talk about, think about, or write about. But, of course, our reluctance to even consider that this happens to beautiful, smart, loved children every day is what pedophiles count on.
So, even though I feel sick to my stomach, I’m talking about it, thinking about it, writing about it. Take that, you bastards.
An article about that same incident came out again in a local magazine, and this one included a list of 10 body safety rules.
Rule 1: No one is allowed to touch your private body parts, except to help you clean them or if the doctor or nurse needs to examine them. (This includes siblings.)
Rule 7: No one is allowed to make you kiss or touch him or her if you don’t want to. No one is allowed to kiss or touch you if you don’t want him or her to, including relatives. You are allowed to choose whom you kiss and touch, and when you kiss and touch people.
Armed with these rules, we’re having regular conversations about our bodies, private parts, and emphasizing the fact that no one gets to touch you if you don’t want to be touched. Ever. We’ve been trying to keep the boys of the bathroom for quite some time, so I think that they may be beginning to get the idea that people are allowed privacy. I’ve talked about body parts and privacy casually, during bathtime, and while we’re driving to school.
I’m trying to make it just one more important life lesson that gets woven in to our regular routine of safety and health topics – things like never running across the street, never playing with matches, the importance of regular hand washing, and behaving with respect for one another. Knowing we’re at least having the conversations helps me sleep a little bit better at night.
Have you talked to your children about rules related to their bodies and privacy? What do you say?