April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, which is a great opportunity to learn how to talk to your children about the subject. Thanks in part to the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements over the last year, sexual assault, and abuse are finally topics of discussion. Talking to your children about sexual assault can be stressful and intimidating for many parents. This isn’t an easy topic for anyone, and it is particularly difficult with innocent children. However, by laying the groundwork and opening the discussion with your children from an early age, you will be giving them the tools they need to feel safe and secure. The best way you can help your children feel safe is by teaching them that they deserve to be respected — no matter what.
How to Talk to Your Kids About Sexual Assault
Making the decision to openly discuss sexual assault with your children is a big one and one that will impact them for the rest of their lives. This can seem daunting, which is why we want to help you learn healthy communication. First and foremost, it is important to talk about consent with your kids. Consent is defined as:
● Giving another person a choice about any actions, advances, touch, or words and always respecting their answer
● When someone agrees, gives permission, or says “yes” to any sexual activity or advances with another person
● Consent should be freely given in all situations and individuals must be able to say “yes” or “no” to stop the sexual activity at any time
One of the biggest problems parents face when talking to their kids about sexual assault is lack of information. Many parents mistakenly believe their children will be taught everything they need to know about sexual assault in school, but this is not always the case. No parent wants to think about their child becoming a victim or being attacked, but the reality is that sexual assault and abuse is rampant in our world.
As uncomfortable as you may be bringing up the subject of sexual assault, not talking to your kids about it is much, much scarier. When approaching the subject, take the following practical suggestions into consideration:
● Plan a specific time, free of distractions, to talk to your child about sexual assault and abuse
● Use concrete examples to help them understand what sexual assault is and make reality clear
● Make sure they know they can ALWAYS come to you
● Teach them boundaries and that it is appropriate to say “no”, even to adults and figures of authority
● Talk about touch and explain when it is wrong
Sexual assault can be confusing, especially for young children. It is important that you are straight with them and don’t try to sugarcoat things or beat around the bush. In addition to the above, make sure you bring about the following in your discussion about sexual assault:
● Always ask for consent
– Teach your kids to ask for consent in everyday situations, too. This will help lay the groundwork moving forward and will teach them that asking for consent and permission should be a part of all interactions
● Listen and observe behaviors
– Teaching your child to listen to the answer when asking for consent and looking for nonverbal cues is a must
● Teach them to accept “no”
– Many children have a hard time with “no”, but it is important to teach them that is a perfectly OK answer to any question
■ Use concrete examples they can understand, like it’s perfectly fine to say “no” when you ask them for a hug
Talking to your kids about sexual assault and teaching them healthy boundaries is imperative in today’s culture. Sexual assault statistics are shockingly high, and the best solution is to educate our children so they can work to prevent it. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or abuse, please call Janovsky & Associates right away. Our Dallas sexual assault lawyers are here for you and will fight tirelessly on your behalf.