Disclaimer: I am not a child psychologist or an expert on this topic in any way. I am just a mom trying to figure out how to raise my children to be aware and safe when they are not with my husband or myself.
One of the MANY topics not covered in the baby books I read while pregnant: how to talk to your 6 and 3.5 year olds about sexual predators.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in this is an important and relevant conversation to have with our kids. I read a lot of articles online (which my husband thinks makes me paranoid), which clues me in to some of the horror that happens to kids around our country. Recently though, it has hit closer to home. A list came out with names of priests who worked for decades in multiple parishes in the greater New Orleans area. Then a local teacher just got arrested. According to Darkness to Light, 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 25 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. I do not want my kids to be in that number.
We have always used the proper words for their genitals, and even though they are both boys, they know the correct names for female private parts as well. Private parts are serious business, so we might as well call it what it is. Having my kids bathe together forced the same casual conversations when they were even younger. We started off vague during bath time. I’m sure all you moms of multiple boys have had to say, “No, you CANNOT touch your brother’s penis!”
Beating around the bush can only do so much good.
I don’t just tell them “don’t cross the street if a car is coming,” I give them step by step instructions, give them scenarios of what could happen if they don’t follow the steps, and then we practice together. So that is the same approach I took to being more blunt about sexual predators. I straight up told them at the dinner table that some grown ups will ask little kids to touch their privates or will try to touch kids’ privates. Lucky for me, they didn’t ask why. Then we practiced what to say if they were in a bathroom and somebody was looking at them or tried to touch them. We also talked about hugs and that they can tell grownups they don’t want hugs or kisses if it makes them uncomfortable. I am not an expert on this topic, but many times it is a slow progression. Lastly, I told them that if anybody tells them they have to do something or the person will hurt mom, dad, or brother, not to believe them.
My kids did not get scared or worried over our talk. They are too innocent to comprehend the magnitude of the topic. I hope they won’t ever have to use the information I gave them, but I feel better preparing them. There are a lot of monsters in our world, but they don’t look like the boogeyman. This is not a new problem, we just have more statistics. Knowledge is power.