With child abuse on the rise, we as parents and caregivers need to equip our children with the skills that they can use to keep themselves safe. So many children are exposed to predators that have the intention to harm them. They use the child’s vulnerability and trusting nature as a way of entering their innocent world, and leaving a trail of hurt, confusion and betrayal.
The most important tools you can give your child in order for them to protect themselves are:
• knowledge about their bodies;
• the ability to distinguish between safe and unsafe touching,
• information on appropriate and inappropriate sexual behaviour and
• the confidence to say ‘no’ to an adult when they feel uncomfortable.
DEVELOPING SAFETY STRATEGIES INCLUDE:
• increasing body awareness; knowing names of public and private parts of the body.
• knowing touching or other behaviours that are safe and unsafe, public and private, respectful and disrespectful.
• knowing different emotions and how to express them.
• knowing that there are people in their network that they can tell if something unsafe has happened to them.
ACTIVITY 1- BODY SAFETY
Here we have 2 images, one of a boy and the other of a girl.
You, as a parent or caregiver, should point to each body part and ask the children to identify them. Also discuss what each body part is used for:
When you get to the private areas, ask the children what they call them (in your home you might have other names for them). It is extremely important to teach your child the correct anatomical name for the private parts, as this gives them the confidence to use these terms if they have to talk to a non-family member about them – for instance, if they get hurt on the playground and they need to tell a teacher.
13. penis and testicles
In the following picture we have costume pieces. These can be drawn and cut out. Use the costume pieces and allow your child to put the them over the private parts of the bodies.
Ask your child/children what they think safe and unsafe touching is.
Explain to your children that where the costume covers the body parts, those are the areas that are private and people should not be allowed to touch there, but also mention that in some instances it would be okay, like if a private part is sore, then a caregiver or a doctor could look at it.
ACTIVITY 2 - EMOTIONS
Emotional intelligence is an important skill to have when dealing with everyday situations and well as difficult events in our lives.
Emotional intelligence involves being able to identify different emotions, knowing how they feel and then having the ability to express them appropriately.
In this activity you can make an emotion wheel out of paper or cardboard, and replicate the wheel and face images below.
This is a daily activity, by choosing a different emotion everyday and giving your child the chance to explore each emotion, empowers them to take control of their reactions. When these four basic feelings have been learned, you and your children can take the next step and discover all the other emotions experienced throughout life.
Choose an emotion for the day and refer to the emotion wheel, for example:
IF YOU CHOOSE ANGRY, SHOW THEM THE IMAGE OF THE ANGRY FACE AND ASK THE QUESTIONS ON THE WHEEL:
1. Explore what your child thinks this emotion is.
2. Ask your child to make a face that shows angry.
3. Let your child identify, that when they feel angry, where they feel it in their bodies,
(we know that when we feel angry we might feel it in our fists, or we might clench our teeth, we also feel it in our hearts)
4. Give your child a chance to say what makes them feel angry.
5. Give your child a chance to say who makes them feel angry.
6. Ask them what memory they have of being angry, what does it make them think of.
7. Explore how they cope with anger. What do they do when they feel angry?
(Some children scream, bite, hit, or break objects when they feel angry)
8. Ask your child what would be better ways to deal with anger, (this could be partaking in a sport, running around, screaming into or punching a pillow)
Use this time to bond with your child, and lay the foundation for an emotionally strong and healthy future.
ACTIVITY 3 -TRUST
As adults, we each have our own ways of knowing who we are able to trust and who not to trust.
Children trust family members, close family friends and individuals with authority (police, teachers, and doctors). These people are often placed in positions that involve having to keep a child safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
ADULTS WHO HURT CHILDREN ARE NOT ALWAYS STRANGERS!
There are adults that abuse these positions of authority, and take advantage of a child’s trust and innocence.
Explore with your child who they believe they can trust.
Use either the image of the hand below or their own hand and for each finger, make a list of people that the child can talk to if someone has hurt them or made them feel uncomfortable.
READ THIS PIECE WITH YOUR CHILD:
Have a discussion with your child about who they trust. People who they can speak to when they feel scared and who they feel safe with.
Remember not to tell them who they can trust. There are many instances where the perpetrator is in their family or a trusted member of the community.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER! TAKE THE TIME TO EQUIP YOUR CHILD AND WATCH THEM FLOURISH.