WARNING: This post is a little heavier than my usual posts.
As I was growing up in a family full of girls, we were taught that our bodies are ours and to say “no” to someone who wanted to touch us inappropriately. We learned about sexual abuse and were taught to be vigilant and to watch out for each other. This is good and certainly something all parents should talk to their children about. However, as a mother of boys, I’ve been noticing something . . . most tips and ides for discussing abuse revolves around girls. While girls are more at risk for sexual abuse, 1 in 6 boys is abused before they turn 18. So it’s important to talk to your boys about this issue, as well.
Today, I’m going to look at a darker side of things, though. Talking to your kids about sexual abuse is very necessary, but with all the information about the Duggars in the news right now, I started thinking. What if your child is the abuser? We talk a lot about preventing abuse, but from the standpoint of protecting our children from other people . . . what about protecting your child from BEING the abuser?
No parent wants to think of their child as being capable of something like this, but 40% of young sexual abuse victims are abused by older children. While it’s easy to skim over this and think that those children have been abused, that isn’t always the case. So, I started thinking about how to talk to children, especially boys, though it is certainly not limited to them, about consent and abuse from the other side of things.
How do you teach children about this subject without going overboard? I started to do some research and with the help of some friends, I found some websites that seem very useful.
The Good Men Project: This site has a lot of great info for raising boys, but this page talks about teaching consent from toddlerhood through the teens. I think this is extremely important! It works both ways. Children should respect other people saying “no” and should also be respected in this way. For example, not forcing children to hug or kiss someone is a way of respecting their consent or lack thereof. You can ASK, but not force. By giving them the power to say no or stop, you teach them that these are important words. The site has a lot more info on how to teach that, age by age.
EveryDay Feminism: This site has an excellent page (linked) that talks about teaching children about consent. There is some very important information there, including teaching them the difference between an enthusiastic yes and a non-response.
If you have any other useful resources, please share them in the comments and I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.