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Sexual Assault Awareness Month: Tips for Talking to Children

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

You’ve chalked the walk, now it’s time to have the talk. 

Keeping our children safe from sexual abuse is of the utmost importance to parents but many parents don’t know how to begin the conversation. 

What age is appropriate? 

A child can be the victim of sexual abuse at ANY age, so taking steps as soon as possible is the best safeguard for your child. 

What should you say?

Teach your child that they have a choice in how and when they show affection. Don’t force your child to hug or use candy or bribes to get them to show affection. Let them know they can say no and that their body belongs to them. Give them choices in small ways, such as letting them choose what shirt to wear, to teach them body autonomy. 

Teach your child the difference between secrets and surprises. Secrets should never be kept, especially between a child and adult. A surprise is something like a birthday party where everyone can be in on the fun except the birthday guest. 

Teach your child the proper names of their body parts. By modeling that you are comfortable using proper body parts, they will feel comfortable talking to you about their body parts and disclosing accurate information should a situation arise. 

It is also important to understand that most perpetrators of sexual abuse are people in the child’s life. While it is terrible to know that people we trust can hurt our children, the best safeguard is to listen and believe when your child tells you something. It may be the only time they tell anyone, and your only chance to stop it. 

How do I get help?

If you are concerned your child may have been abused, or need help for yourself, contact our Help Line any time at (530) 623-HELP to speak with a trained advocate.


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