When it comes to emergency preparedness, we know the value of talking through a safety plan with our kids. They know where to go in case of a fire at school, to head to the basement if they hear a tornado siren and to duck and cover during an earthquake. Our kids know these things because we talk about them and practice them until they become second nature.
But what if our kids were facing not a natural disaster, but a situation where they could potentially be sexually abused? What if sexual abuse has happened to them? Would they know what to do? Do they have a plan?
The statistics are frightening. Our children are far more likely to face the reality of sexual abuse than they are to navigate a fire or be involved in a natural disaster, but they are coming into those moments far less prepared. While we may have talked to our kids about “stranger danger” we may not have thought to talk to them about what to do if someone they trust tries to use that trust to take advantage of them. Children are much less likely to be abused by a stranger than they are by someone they know— someone YOU know.
Many parents worry that by talking to our kids about the potential for sexual abuse, we will scare them. In reality, by giving them the right words, knowledge of their boundaries and a safety plan, we are empowering our kids. Just like they calmly walk to their designated area during a school fire drill, we can help our kids feel prepared and calm when we are able to calmly work at preparing them for a reality we hope will never happen.