Children need to be protected from situations where they can be sexually abused. Be careful who you leave your child with and where you leave him/her. Remember abusers can be friends or family members as well as strangers.
It is a myth to think that only strangers will sexually abuse a child. Anyone who has access to children can abuse them. Statistics show that in 85% of reported cases, the offender is someone known to the child. As such it is important that you teach your child to recognize abuse and quickly tell a trusted adult – you or his/her teacher – about the incident.
Build a good relationship with your child so that he/she is able to talk to you. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse. Small children cannot make up stories about people doing sexual things to them. They simply do not have enough knowledge to be able to make up such stories.
Be specific and make positive staments. Give support, comfort, and listen actively by keeping eye contact, nodding and using phrases like, “Yes”, “I see…”, “Mmm…” or repetition of key word. Be patient and use language that the child understands. Encourage the child to talk by saying things like: “Would you like to tell me what is bothering you? We can try to work it out together.” “Please go on…” “Take your time.” “Is there anything else that you would like to talk about?”
Always believe the child and let her know it; a child does not lie over such matters. Your child will need your trust and support when he/she seeks your help. Try not to use comments like “I told you so” or “Why are you so stupid” as this will case the child to blame himself/herself. Use positive statements lie, “I believe you” or “I’m sorry this happened to you.”
Usually children are too scared to tell you about being abused as the abuser someone who has power or authority over them. They could also be afraid that you will be angry at hem or blame them for what happened. You would want him/her to trust you enough to be able to tell you about any incidents that have occurred, including those involving love and sex with anyone. So learn to keep calm and convince your child that what happened in not his/her fault.
Children should be taught to love and respect their own bodies, and that there are certain rules regarding what adults can do to them. It is also important to emphasise that there are right and wrong ways of touching, often children are able to judge whether something is right or wrong by trusting their feelings and listening to their feelings.
You could teach your child that what is covered by his/her underwear is called her private parts and that they belong only to him/her and should not be touched by just anybody or without his/her permission. Emphasise that the private parts are touched only for the purpose of hygiene and also medical reasons, e.g. a doctor.
Use anatomical words like penis, vagina, breasts rather than judgmental words like, “pol-pok” (vagina), and “ku-ku” (penis). Using the correct words the body parts is important because:
It ensures that, if someone touches the child’s private parts, he/she can accurately tell you what happened. It shows respect for your child and his/her body Communicates the seriousness of the subject calmly as a matter of-fact.
You can provide soft toys and/or color pencils for the child to show you what happened to her.
Contact local NGO or counseling service to help the child deal with the trauma of the situation
Children can learn to trust their feelings about people and touches and that there is a voice within them (intuition) which will instinctively tell them when something is wrong. When a touch makes a child feel confused and uncomfortable, that is his/her inner voice (intuition) telling him/her that the touch is bad. Teach your child to trust that inner voice.
Try not to have secrets amongst family members. Often abusers tell children that “this is a secret between you and me.” This causes guilt feelings and as such he/she does not tell about the abuse. Tell her she is right to tell and that she does not have to keep secrets that make her feel frightened or uncomfortable.