Ladies, I’m about to get very real. So put on your big girl pants for this one.
I know all things sexual are taboo for many – especially in the conservative area of the US where I live. However, talking about taboo topics can create more awareness. We can’t prevent our children from ever having difficult experiences, but we can teach them safety measures for prevention to minimize the risk of sexual assault.
I truly hope your child never has to experience sexual assault. I wish it wasn’t something we need to keep on our radar. But if we pretend like it doesn’t exist – how will that teach our children to protect themselves?
What is sexual assault? According to the United States Department of Justice, sexual assault is “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” If you want to learn more about what can be classified as sexual assault click here.
Sexual predators can come from any demographic, race, or religion. Regardless of your socioeconomic background, we all need to be on guard. In my 25 years, I’ve learned that nonconsensual sexual encounters are so much more common than we might realize. I grew up in a highly religious and middle-class home. My family was still affected. My parents did their absolute best to protect my siblings and I from predators. But predators can be in the most unexpected places. According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), “Most victims know their assailants: 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows, such as a neighbor, family member, or romantic partner.”
When I was very young, I was assaulted by a member of a family playgroup. Another time I was assaulted by someone who I thought was a friend at church. After having these experiences, I want to do everything in my power to protect my daughter and future children against these types of encounters.
Knowledge is power. Teaching our children how to take precautions empowers them to protect themselves from danger – especially when we are not around.
The following are preventive measures that encourage sexual safety. They are not guaranteed, however they can cultivate open communication, help children identify wrong behavior and create boundaries for future relationships.
Let’s teach our children to how to be safe:
When I was a teen, I thought group dates were a way for my parents control me and keep me from a fun make-out sesh. Little did I know that group dates are actually the safe route for unfamiliar company, which can prevent unwanted encounters. So my parents were looking out for my best interest, as good parents do.
Emphasize that you aren’t trying to control your child- you are trying to protect them from trauma. Having open communication about our bodies and sexuality will more likely lead your child to turn to you when they are in need of advice or someone to trust and confide in.
When should we start these conversations with our child? It is completely up to you. You know your child better than anyone. Keep in mind that young children and adolescents are a target for predators because they are more vulnerable at this stage. Start these critical conversations early so there’s more prevention than damage control.
Is there a way to spot a predator before anything happens? Unfortunately, no. It depends on the situation. There is literally so much we can worry about for our children as parents. However, these six recommendations are some ways to give you peace of mind and provide tools to help your child protect themselves.
Thanks for surviving the realness. Until next time.
Elise Blaser has a Bachelor of Business Management with an emphasis in Human Resources. She has a wonderful husband, Zach, and a beautiful one-year-old daughter, Violet. Before becoming a mom, she was a Program Developer for FIELDS, a nonprofit organization for Native American education and economic development, where she created and implemented a values-based, life-skills curriculum for underserved youth. She is currently a volunteer Crisis Counsellor for Crisis Text Line (also nonprofit), where she helps texters navigate and cope with crisis. She is passionate about health and wellness and sharing her life experiences to help uplift others.
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