This important business of teaching your children about their bodies and about molestation or inappropriate touching or possible kidnappers is no longer something that happens “when they are older.” Given the statistics of child abuse in our country, these conversations need to be happening in your home the minute your child is able to communicate.
It’s shocking to me that I need to potentially be having sex education talks with my preschool children because of the society we live in. But I want my children to be aware, I want them to understand that there are people out there who could possibly want to hurt them; I don’t want them to be under-educated in any way about the dangers lurking out there. But there’s this beautiful and wonderful thing called childlike innocence and I don’t want to take that away from them either. I don’t want to frighten them. I don’t want them to have to second guess every move they make, every adult they come into contact with, every well-meaning hug from a friend. It’s such a fine line, and one that needs to be tread on so delicately. But there is no doubt that we have to deal with it, we have to edify our children, God forbid they are ever in this situation.
I have found that using the Traffic Light Guide is a great way to educate young children on their bodies. It basically explains it as your body being like a traffic light. Green is your head, and it’s ok to be touched here. From your neck to your belly is orange, and you may or may not be ok with being touched here and may want to mention it to an adult you trust. Red is from the belly down and it is most definitely not ok to be touched here. I found this quite easy for little kids to grasp. I also impress upon them that no-one, not even mommy or daddy, not even brothers or sisters, are allowed to touch them in the orange and red zone, without their consent. And I’ve made an exception for doctors, who may have to touch you BUT only if mommy is there.
Educate your kids today, do it when you get home tonight. If you are concerned about how to tackle the topic, Google age appropriate ways to do it. Be aware of what’s going on in your child’s life, be on the lookout for signs, TALK to them. I have learned that talking about things and asking questions and letting your kids ask you questions about EVERYTHING, not only this topic, is a way to encourage them to come to you when something goes wrong because that line of communication has always existed, and you have always been opened to discussing all sorts of things, even scary stuff like this.
Ten years ago, a person reading this post would have been embarrassed about reading such a thing on a public forum. Twenty years ago this conversation would have been considered taboo. But today, none of it is shocking, when you look at the news headlines or you actually know a victim personally, or know someone who knows a victim; you realise just how close to home this has come. We have to fight back.
Talk to your kids today.