The single most important thing adults, especially parents, can do to stop childhood sexual abuse is to begin a dialog with children about appropriate physical contact and to assure them that they can come to you to talk about any interaction or person who makes them uncomfortable.
We suggest that parents begin when their child is as young as 5 by telling them that unless you are with them or give your express permission (such as to a doctor), no one has the right to touch them “where their bathing suit goes.”
As your child ages, keep talking to them in age appropriate ways. Use opportunities that present themselves, such as a child’s comment that someone is “creepy” to gently talk about how some adults don’t have a child’s best interests at heart and remind them to come tell you if anyone ever makes them feel uncomfortable. The most important thing is that the child learns to trust their feelings and to tell an adult if something feels “wrong.” And if your child ever gives you the hint, perhaps by not wanting to be alone with a particular adult, listen to them!
When interviewed, convicted (non-family) child molesters say that they chose quiet kids, children who had fewer adults supporting them, or whose parents were preoccupied elsewhere. In other words: children who wouldn’t tell, or who had no adult they trusted to tell.
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