by Chrissy (Jackson) Sykes – Creator at My Body Is My Body Programme, Child Abuse Prevention, Member ISPCAN, GGA (United Kingdom)
We all want our children to be well behaved when we leave them with babysitters, family and friends so…you may tell them
- You listen to the babysitter (friend or family member)
- You do everything they tell you to do…
- Please be a good girl / boy
- I don’t want to come home and find that you have not been doing what you have been told to do, and so on…
We put our children in quite a predicament if they are with an abusive person.
Over 90% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows and trusts, and therefore it is also someone that the parents know and trust.
I was 4 when my mother started leaving me with my abusive babysitter.
The dilemma children have is that they have been told to listen, told to be good for this person, but most times like in my case we have not prepared for someone that may try and take advantage of us.
From a child’s perspective you don’t want to upset your parents by not doing what you are told, even if you know that something does not feel right. The the abuser will tell you not to tell and may tell you “if you tell, your parents will be angry with you” or they “won’t love you anymore if they know what you have done”. Abusers are very manipulative and a young child has no chance if they are not prepared.
I am not saying that educating a child will stop all sexual abuse, but I do know your child will be better prepared if someone does try to be abusive, and abusers do not like children that say NO! and I will tell.
We need to tell children – We all have private parts and nobody should touch your private parts:
a) When they are very young, parents or carer will have to bathe them, but as they get older they will learn how to bathe themselves.
b) Parents or carers may have to apply medicine to their private parts if the child is sick or sore. Make sure they know that this is something only parents or carers would do and if it makes them feel uncomfortable they can always be shown how to apply the medicine themselves.
c) A doctor may have to touch their private parts if they are sick or sore, but that Mommy, Daddy or their carer would always be with them if the doctor had to touch them there. There is no other time that anyone should be touching their private parts. The most important thing is that the children know it is ok to say “NO” if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or tries to make them do things they know are wrong. Empower children by letting them know their bodies belong to them.
There is no need to go into any further sexual or abuse details with young children.
Please empower your children to say NO!! and tell them if anyone is looking after them and they do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable they can say NO and they do not have to do it. You may also want to mention to say NO if babysitters want to take pictures of them as well.
Also it is wise to have the “NO SECRETS IN OUR HOUSE” rule – to protect children against people who may want to take advantage. Tell children to never keep secrets only surprises (like birthday presents, or surprise parties etc, nice things)
We only leave our children with people we trust. My parents, who were wonderful parents, left me with someone they knew and trusted – but I was not prepared and therefore suffered 2 years of sexual abuse and many years of trauma that goes along with the initial abuse.
Of course you want your child to behave when being looked after but we have to show them the right time to follow the rules and the right time to question things.
The My Body Is My Body Programme is a Free Programme that will give you songs and ideas on how to tackle the above problems in a non threatening way, so check out our website. If you don’t use our programme there are also other child abuse prevention programmes for children – please have a look and please prepare your child – and let’s make this a Safer World For Children.