As we begin to recognize more and more that there is a NEED to discuss Personal Body Safety with children as early as possible, the question then comes into play how early is too early? What is an appropriate age to begin this discussion with our children and students?
I was thinking about an idea for my next blog post when I came across an instagram post of mine that was re shared.
This individual asked a very thought provoking question. “What is the right age to talk to kids about body safety?” (Jennifer Lee) She then strategically answered her own question “As soon as they are able to form words.” She then went on to give a personal example about discussing this topic with her two year old daughter, and teaching her the “proper names” for her body parts. Read on further to find out why proper names are important.
To answer the question regarding is 2 years old too young to learn about Personal Body Safety? The answer is Absolutely NOT! For starters we know enough to know that unfortunately those that sexually abuse children there is no age limit for their victims. Sadly some target children at younger ages because they feel like they won’t speak up or talk.
I came across a highly disturbing case that made news this summer(2018). This boy was beaten to death by his very own mother and her boyfriend. Not only was he beaten to death but upon further evaluation of his body it was indicated that the boy had been sexually abused as well by his mother and her boyfriend.As if this isn’t shocking enough the disturbing part about it all was his age. Sadly he was only 2 years old, the perpetrators are behind prison bars but it does not negate the fact that this baby had to suffer at the hands of those that were supposed to protect him,and left this earth way too soon. What if someone in this kid’s childcare facility or family taught him about personal body safety, and he was able to speak up in the few words he knew would this story have had a different outcome? Would he still be alive today? Starting this discussion with children as early as 2 can potentially save a child’s life both figuratively and literally.
Some parents and caretakers fear that discussing this topic with children at an early age opens the discussion for sex. However this is not the case, you can have this discussion without talking about the birds and the bees. Quite frankly I would prefer to have a discussion about boundaries and prevention tactics with my child, as opposed to having a discussion with them about being sexually abused and I did not have the discussion to prevent it.
If you are now convinced that it is essential for you to begin this discussion with your 2 year old or older GREAT! Keep it as simple as possible here are 4 tips to help you. DISCLOSURE: Also be very mindful and realistic of the fact that a 2 year old does not have the cognitive ability to process information the way that a 3 or 4 year old would. Nevertheless the objective is the earlier the better!
- Teach them the proper names for body parts. Upon continuing a discussion with Jennifer Lee who happens to be a caseworker for New Jersey’s Department of Child Protection and Permanency also known as an investigator for Child Protective Services she confirmed this. It is important that you teach the child proper names for their body parts. This is important because perpetrators incorporate “special” names for private body parts. She gave this great example: If a girl was to go to school and tell an adult that Daddy touched my purse which is a special name for Vagina she would not be taken seriously. If she was to say Daddy touched her Vagina that would be investigated immediately
- Explain to the child the difference between “safe” and “unsafe” touch. For younger children explain that private areas are off limits for touching. For girls private areas are those that are covered with a bathing suit and for boys the area that is covered by swimming trunks.
- Deal with the “secret.” Explain to them the difference between good and bad secrets, and explain they can disclose to you or a trusted adult a bad secret.
- Have the child name 5 or more trusted adults, and explain that they can go to these trusted adults if they feel unsafe. But more importantly keep telling trusted adults until they are believed.
According to statistics over 80,000 child sexual abuse cases go unreported annually. Sadly there is no age limit. Children as early as 2 are suffering or have suffered in silence without ever disclosing the abuse.
Would you rather the discussion on Personal Body Safety be at 2 or the discussion be 2 late?
Feel free to share and express your thoughts?