The danger from molestation does not come from monsters or mean people. In nearly all cases it comes from those the child knows, likes, and admires. This causes contradictions when we try to warn kids about the danger of bad touches, as children are concrete thinkers, and imagine that bad things only come from bad people. Parents often make it worse by going to great lengths creating explanations for our world that fall into fairy-tale-like good versus evil scenarios. Great for fairy tales, but in the real world, it’s dangerous and deceptive. It’s also unnecessary. Children are able to grasp reality when it’s explained to them. Not only does it protect them from abuse, but it’s a far more healthy perspective on life to teach.
A Few Bad Apples
Teach children that most people love kids and would do everything they could to protect them. However, there are a few bad apples out there who might hurt them. We can’t always tell the good from the bad by looking. Illustrate this with the Pinochio story. In real life, peoples noses don’t grow every time they tell a lie. In the same manner, people who do bad things look the same as the rest of us.
I Didn’t Mean To
Explain to your kids that most of the people who hurt children, don’t do it intentionally. They are usually ‘good’ people who do things that they shouldn’t. Remind the child that sometimes even they do things that result in harm to another individual, whether they meant to or not. This could be instances where a child accidentally injured another person or sibling. It could be times when they broke something being careless. Times when they hurt someone’s feelings. Explain to them that sometimes people do things that they do not mean as harmful. This is why its important for us to speak up and tell others exactly how we feel.
Grown-Ups Aren’t Perfect
Even though you should always respect adults and listen to them, this does not mean adults are always right. Adults can make bad choices too, just like kids can. Even adults you like and think are nice. If an adult asks you to do something you think is wrong, you have the right to say no until after you check with your parents or another adult first.
Setting the Example
It’s hard to expect kids to practice what you yourself don’t model. So avoid demonizing people yourself. When you read about something bad happening or hear a story on the news, don’t talk about what a terrible person it took to do such a thing. Instead use it as an opportunity to talk about how someone who was a real person, who probably had many good things about them, did something they shouldn’t have.
Resources to teach kids people concepts:
Who Would Give You Bad Touches A printable PDF
Love Is A printable PDF
More Information Abuse Prevention:
- Step 1: Raising Sexually Healthy Children
- Step 2: Healthy Body Awareness
- Step 3: Teaching Children to Trust Their Instincts
- Step 4: All About Touches
- Step 5: Everyday Rules
- Step 6: A Child’s Rights
- Step 7: Empowering Your Children
- Step 8: Coaching & Bribes
- Step 9: Proper People Perceptions
- Step 10: Defeating Secrecy
- Step 11: Asking the Right Questions
- Step 12: Making Your Child A Hard Target