Body safety and consent, kids edition

These two topics are not ones that come lightly. They carry a massive weight in the shaping of our children and the next generation. How do we start talking about appropriate and inappropriate behavior with others? Lets start with sharing our bodies, think “I don’t want to be tickled, so my belly is not for sharing”. There are some amazing books for these topics I have referenced at the bottom of the page, as well.

  • Reinforce “your body belongs to you” and “keep private parts privatedo not force kids to hug, kiss, or subject themselves to any form of physical contact with any person that makes them feel any of the following: uncomfortable, angry, sad, scared, lonely, upset, yucky, icky, in danger. These are considered “red flag” characteristics. I don’t care if it’s grandma, if they say no then the answer is no.
  • Encourage your kids to be curious and ask you questions so they don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss these important topics with you. Keeping open conversations going will help them be honest with a trusted adult if they ever have an inappropriate encounter.
  • Discuss how important it is to ask friends/family to have a hug or kiss. Some people are very uncomfortable with physical contact, others may be concerned about sharing germs! Either way touching someone who has asked for space is not okay.
  • Talk about how to clearly ask for space and set physical boundaries. “I need some space right now, could you play over there or let me go to my room by myself… I don’t like to be tickled on my belly… No thanks, I don’t want a hug… Kissing is for grownups, not for me…”
  • Talk about adults who are considered safe or “green flags” (people you personally know are great too): doctors, teachers, grandparents, police, 911 operators.
  • No secrets between kids and trusted adults. The reality is if a grown up or big kid really needs help, they won’t ask a child. If an adult or bigger kid has told them they have to keep a secret, they may not be trustworthy.
  • Remind them that if anyone tries to bribe or threaten them into doing something that involves privates they can put up a “red flag” even if it is something great or really scary, run away and tell a trusted adult. This is a good time to talk about the difference between a reward/treat.
  • Avoid unlimited access to screens and internet. Check in to what your kids are watching and don’t leave them alone to browse. Talk about what to do if they see a naked picture of someone online, look away and find a grown up.

Red Flag, Green Flag

Kids don’t go to the ugly places ours do; however, it is up to us to give them the tools to navigate situations out of our control. For example, recognizing people as “green flags” or “red flags” as I mentioned above. This will not only help them protect themselves but also help them understand how behaving a certain way towards people can portray them as “red flags” or even bullies.

  • Run through some what ifs and give them a Think, Say, and Do list.
    Here are some examples:
    -If someone dares you to take off your underwear for money…
    (this is a bribe)
    Think: Danger, RED FLAG!
    Say: “No! No way!” Be loud and clear.
    Do: Get out of there and tell quickly!
    -If someone tells you all the cool kids look at naked pictures…
    (this is a lie)
  • Think: Danger, RED FLAG!
  • Say: “No! No way!” Be loud and clear.
  • Do: Get out of there and tell quickly!
    -If someone tells you they won’t be your friend anymore if you don’t play along… (this is a threat)
  • Think: Danger, RED FLAG!
  • Say: “No! No way!” Be loud and clear.
  • Do: Get out of there and tell quickly!

The statistics are astounding:

According to Darkness to Light :

  • Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • 30% of children are abused by family members.
  • As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts.
  • About 35% of victims are 11 years old or younger.
  • Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.

To learn the 5 Steps of protecting children from sexual abuse read here: https://www.d2l.org/education/5-steps/

Some fantastic books on consent and porn-proofing our kids are: I Said No!, My Body Belongs To Me, and Good Pictures Bad Pictures.

You may also be interested in more from this blog: Timeline for talking to your kids about sex

Caarin Torsitano

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