One of the most essential parts of sexual abuse prevention and normal, healthy sexual development in children is to talk about it! This is step number 3 from the 5 Steps To Protecting our children from Darkness2light.org. As a mom of three children, kindergarten teacher, child development professional, and sexual abuse prevention facilitator… I can tell you with certainty that children are naturally curious creatures. There is nothing wrong with starting a healthy, developmentally appropriate,conversation with your child at an early age about thier bodies.
My first year of teaching kindergarten was a truly amazing experience. I was 23 years old and ready to get to work. I was fresh out of grad-school and thought I really knew what I was doing. One of my biggest regrets of this year was an experience I mis-handled. One of the little girls in my class came in one day and shared with me that her dad had been, “Taking her cookie”. I really didn’t ask any questions about this statement. I just told her to tell her dad to get his own cookie and redirected her back to work. The next day, she came in and report the same thing. However, she was crying. I stopped to ask a few more questions and then all of a sudden it hit me. I asked her to show me where her cookie was. She pointed to her private area. I felt horrible and sick to my stomach. I called the school nurse to come down and help. This child had reported a sexual abuse event to me and I didn’t get it right away. This experience helped me truly understand the value of language and using the correct terms when discussing private parts. Families have different words for private parts. However, it is very important that we teach our children the correct terms as well. In the event our child ever needs to report an incident, it is essential that they know the words to use that most people will understand.
In our book, “I SAID NO! a kid-to-kid guide to keeping private parts private” we simply say, “Private parts for boys are the parts of your body that are under your underwear. Private parts for girls are the parts of your body that are under your underwear and undershirt. There are doctor names for your private parts. We are sure you have heard of a few of them! You might want to talk about some of those names now“. Talking about it opens up a dialogue, provides comfort, and leads to understanding. It is a great idea to start the conversation of body parts as soon as possible. Our pediatrician, Dr. Christopher Wrubel, now uses our book to help start this important conversation with his patients at wellness check ups for young children. As children grow, the questions and information you need to share with them will change. In today’s world, it is more important than ever to have this conversation to protect your children from harm.