Keep the conversation going
Talking with kids about sexual abuse should be something that happens a lot, not just one time. These can be casual conversations that take place any time during your normal routine or when your child has a question or comment that gives you an opening. Keep talks plain and simple and make sure your child knows they can always come to you with questions. If you make a habit of talking to your children about their daily activities, listening to their concerns and caring about their feelings, they'll feel safer coming to you if something happens.
Talking to children in ways they can understand about bodies, boundaries, and sexuality helps them understand how basic human body functions work. It also helps set early habits of talking about things even when they are awkward or confusing. It teaches them that they have the right to say “no.” They become less vulnerable to people who would violate their boundaries. They are more likely to tell you if they are abused. Communicating openly also helps show children what healthy relationships look like and helps set lifelong habits of healthy communication. There are many more resources and conversation starters in the talk section of this website.
Talk about the difference between secrets and surprises
Explain the difference between secrets and surprises. Surprises are fun and exciting. Part of the fun is that the surprise will be revealed after a short period of time. Secrets keep other people away often because the information will create upset or anger. When keeping secrets with just one person becomes routine, children are more vulnerable to abuse. Tell children that no secret needs to stay a secret if someone is being hurt or made uncomfortable.
Are you ready to take the next steps in building healthy communication practices with your kids? Get tools and tips in our Talk section!
The Children's Safety Partnership is a program of the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA) and a partnership between MECASA, the Maine Department of Education, Maine's local sexual assault support centers, and schools across the state.