This important business about teaching your children about their bodies and about molestation or inappropriate touching or rape or a person trying to hurt them, is HARD. After reading this post on Celeste’s blog, and this horrible rape video that has been doing the rounds, I have been giving this terrible topic more thought.
From the time I thought Liam could understand, I have been brainwashing training him about his body, and how certain areas are private and that no one should ever, ever touch him there. I try and explain in simple terms that although mommy and daddy have to touch him there in order to bath and change his night diaper, even mommies and daddies have no business touching him in his private places. I know he gets it, because he asks lots of questions and we do role play … NO… not like that… but I’ll say “if someone touches you there, what do you do?” and he’ll say “I scream NO, and run away.” Or I’ll tell him that secrets are bad and if a person tells you that it’s a secret what do you do? And he’ll say “tell mommy.” I can only pray that he really is cognisant and that our talks are hitting home. Not in a deep and meaningful way at this stage, but at least he gets it, in it’s simplest form.
My sister is a school teacher, and over the Easter break, she too was giving Liam a talk about this topic. School teachers obviously have a knack with these sorts of things, because ever since, Liam won’t even let Hannah near him – Hannah who at the moment, is freakishly taken up with Liam’s dan.gly bits. I don’t know if Hannah’s at the right age to “get it” yet – even in simple terms. I haven’t started coaching her, and I fear the day that I have to. I guess it’s because she is a girl, I guess it’s because I’m more afraid of something happening to Hannah, because the odds are stacked higher against her as a girl, than they are against Liam. I am not naïve enough to believe that things like this don’t happen to boys, of course they do – all the time, but we all know the statistics – our girls are substantially more at risk.
I can’t believe that I need to be having these conversations with my children. I can’t believe how sick society has become, that I need to potentially be having se .x education talks with my small children. How heart-rending is it that children with phones have access to a video of a poor girl been gang raped? How horrible for that girl? How horrible for those sick boys (because they were just but boys) who committed this heinous crime and thought it normal to record it? Where have they come from? What goes on in their heads, in their lives, that they think this is ok?
I want Liam and Hannah to be aware, I want them to understand that there are sick people out there who could possibly want to hurt them, I don’t want them to be under-educated in any way about the dangers lurking out there. But there’s this beautiful and wonderful thing called childlike innocence and I don’t want to take that away from them either! I don’t want them to have to second guess every move they make, every adult they come into contact with, every well meaning hug from a friend. It’s such a fine line, and one that needs to be tread on so delicately. But there is no doubt, that we have to deal with it, we have to edify our children, God forbid they are ever in this situation.
I liked the concept I picked up from one of the comments on Reluctant Mom’s blog. It basically explains it as your body being like a traffic light. Green is your head, and it’s ok to be touched here. From your neck to your belly is orange, and you may or may not be ok with being touched here and may want to mention it to an adult you trust. Red is from the belly down and it is most definitely not ok to be touched here. Quite a simple and easy to understand tool for little kids, don’t you think?
Educate your kids today, do it when you get home tonight. Google age appropriate ways to do it, if you are concerned about how to tackle the topic. Be aware of what’s going on in your child’s life, be on the lookout for signs.. talk talk talk.. I have learned that talking about things and asking questions and letting your kids ask you questions.. about EVERYTHING, not only this topic… is a way to encourage them to come to you when something goes wrong because that line of communication has always existed, and you have always been opened to discussing all sorts of things, even scary stuff like this.
10 Years ago, a person reading this post would have been embarrassed about reading such a thing on a public forum. 20 Years ago a person would have been shocked and horrified and reported me to the police or had my blog banned. But today, none of it is shocking, when you look at the news headlines or you actually know a victim personally, or know someone who knows a victim; you realise just how close to home this has come. We have to fight back.
Talk to your kids today.