How to Talk About Sexual Assault With Your Child

The recent Harvey Weinstein scandal — and the many others that have followed — opened the gates for millions of women and men to come forward and say they were the victims of sexual assault. It’s not just teenagers and adults that these heinous acts are happening to with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center reporting that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

Talking to your child from a young age can make sure they know the warning signs of a dangerous situation and that they feel comfortable about communicating any sexual assault incidents or issues. Below are some tips from Ross Cascio, an expert level Krav Maga instructor with over a decade teaching Krav Maga self-defense, fight and fitness classes, on how to approach this difficult and sometimes uncomfortable subject with your child.

Start conversations early. Begin talking to them as young as 2 years old. This may seem very early, but children under age 12 are most at risk at 4 years old. Even if they can’t speak well, children at this age are busy figuring out the world. They certainly understand and remember a lot more than adults usually realize. Share the only instances when their private parts can be seen and touched. An age-appropriate concept for a young child to understand is that nobody, including a parent or caregiver, should see or touch their private parts (what a swimming suit covers up) unless they’re keeping them clean, safe or healthy.

Talk openly about sexuality. It's important that children understand that it's OK to talk about sexuality. These topics do not need to be “secret.” Abusers sometimes tell a child that the abuse should be kept a secret. Let your child know that if someone is touching him or her or talking to him or her in ways that make him or her uncomfortable or scared, that it should not stay a secret.

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