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How Do You Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse?

By Sierra Black |

206812690_b25e70627dApril is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. As a survivor myself, this topic is pretty close to my heart. Last month, the mothers of Momversation had a chat about it. This week, Catherine Connors from Her Bad Mother talks about her own experiences, and her decision to speak out about abuse.

As many as one in five children are sexually abused. But we’re not doing any better than our parents did at teaching our kids how to understand, avoid and report abuse when it occurs. The vast, vast majority of child abuse is perpetrated by people a child knows. Yet most parents stress the dangers posed by strangers when talking to children about abuse. A recent study suggests that parents today are making the same mistakes in communicating with our kids that parents did 20 years ago, and 30 years ago.

How should we protect our children? Child advocacy group Darkness to Light advises parents on seven steps they can take to help their kids:

  1. Learn the Facts – Understand the real prevalence of sexual abuse, and that it typically occurs at the hands of family members and trusted friends.
  2. Minimize Opportunity – Reduce or eliminate situations where your child is alone with another adult.
  3. Talk About It – Make sure your kids know, from a very young age, what kinds of touch are not OK, and give them frequent opportunities to talk about their bodies, their development and their experiences.
  4. Stay Alert – Most abuse victims show no physical signs of their abuse. Watch for emotional cues. Darkness to Light says, “These can run from “too perfect” behavior, to withdrawal and depression, to unexplained anger and rebellion.”
  5. Make A Plan – Know what you’ll do if your child tells you she or he has been abused, before you’re confronted with that reality.
  6. Act On Suspicions – Trust your instincts, and report suspected abuse.
  7. Get Involved – Donate your time, money and energy to making sexual abuse education a priority in your community.

Have you talked with your kids about sexual abuse? What did you say? Do your own childhood experiences color how you handle this issue with your kids?

Photo: Pink Sherbert Photography

More by Sierra Black:

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Gay Teen Sent To Fake Prom

The End of Play

Nursing Someone Else’s Baby

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About Sierra Black


Sierra Black

Sierra Black lives, writes and raises her kids in the Boston area. She loves irreverence, hates housework and wants to be a writer and mom when she grows up. Read bio and latest posts → Read Sierra's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “How Do You Talk To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse?

  1. Joanna says:

    Is there any way to make that video not play automatically when the page is loaded? There’s no mute button, the pause is disabled b/c it’s an ad, and I have a sleeping baby nearby.

  2. JesBelle says:

    Important topic but the video playing every time the page is brought up is not cool. It’s not the subject matter I’m objecting to, it’s the annoyance factor. Strollerderby doesn’t load all that quickly in the best circumstances and the automatically playing video doesn’t help. It needs to only be on its own page or not on auto-play.

  3. diera says:

    I agree with previous comments. I have no problem with this video, but it should *not* start up automatically when the page is brought up.

  4. JesBelle says:

    Thanks for disabling the video.

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