Together We Heal has compiled an excellent set of resources for parents and caregivers on how to talk about sexual abuse with children, as well as advice on how to talk with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
At the beginning of their post (linked above), Together We Heal quotes Chris Anderson’s (Executive Director of MaleSurvivor.org) guidance to parents on speaking with their children:
“Parents need to realize that educating their children about sexuality and maintaining and protecting proper boundaries has to be a regular part of their interactions with children.
Having ‘the sex talk’ once when a kid is about to enter adolescence isn’t sufficient, and in all likelihood leads to more children being at risk because parents don’t want to educate their own children about sex, making it all the more easier for perpetrators to manipulate and misinform their targets.
WE need to encourage parents, caregivers, teachers, and all those involved with youth to think about planting the seeds of awareness, compassion, and protection over and over and over again. Conversations about what constitutes healthy, non-manipulative relationships as well as appropriate physical and social boundaries need to be a regular part of the experience of children.
There is NO reason whatsoever that ANY parent can justify not giving their children age appropriate, correct biological terms for body parts. Penis, vagina, and anus are not dirty words.
Any adult who seems to be overly desirous of taking a child one on one should be carefully screened by parents. Who are they? Why do they want to spend so much time with a child? What are they really looking for?
Parents who empower their children to say No when they don’t feel comfortable around someone or doing something are doing the right thing. Children should not be ‘forced’ to give hugs and kisses to relatives, they should be encouraged to say whether or not they want to.
Serial perpetrators will often screen out children who have been taught these skills because they are looking for the ‘soft’ targets who are more easily manipulated. The vulnerability that makes kids so easy to manipulate is borne of their need for attention and affirmative parental bonding. It’s all too easy for many parents to try and find ways to encourage their kids to leave them alone and entertain or distract themselves. Too often, this actually leads children to seek what they are not getting from their parents from others who know all too well how to manipulate a child into doing what they want.
Perhaps the last point is that grooming thrives where secrecy, shame, and ignorance are in full effect. Any parent that encourages their children to always disclose when they feel uncomfortable about someone or something, AND who makes it clear that the child will never be in trouble for doing so is already doing a great deal to protect their children.”