With the kids all starting school, at all ages, we’re once again having to trust we’ve taught them what they need to know in order to protect themselves while they’re away from our (often over-)protective grasp. As with everything, I encourage one rule, first and foremost and that is for the parents: TALK TO YOUR KIDS. While some subjects are sensitive, and assault is certainly one of them, it’s a very important conversation to have, and have more than once.
RAINN – the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network – has posted some guidelines to help protect our children from Sexual Assault, and how to talk to our kids about them. We’re surrounded by messages about it through the media, but there’s not a lot of advice about how to talk to our kids. They’ve set up guidelines that are simple and clear, and worth a read. The most important thing, of course, is that no matter how uncomfortable these conversations can be, the important thing is that they happen.
The three Keys that RAINN stress are these:
— Talk to your children about sexuality and sexual abuse in age-appropriate terms.
— Be involved in your child’s life.
— Be available.
We need to empower our kids to say “No” and make sure they feel comfortable coming to us, as parents and trusted adults, if something happens, or they suspect something might. Also, you’ve heard me rant on victim blaming before (if not, stay tuned, I probably will again) – so make sure while you’re talking to your kids, that they know that it’s not the way they are dressed, the way that they talk, or even the way that they walk that attracts the attention of an abuser – the abuser is in wrong, period. Teaching modesty is good. Blaming attacks on a short skirt or tight shirt? Is not.
But in the end – no matter how you go about it, what you choose to say, the most important thing is that these talks happen, so that our kids have every weapon at their disposal for protecting themselves when we’re not around.
PS: Check out RAINN’s back to school tips too! It’s aimed at our college students, but works for our High School teens as well. College aged women are the highest risk for being sexually assaulted. Being aware is often the first step in staying safe!