Letters to the Editor: OUR Children’s Safety and Success 

 

“Your article about abuse was scary, but good. When and how do you start telling little ones what is appropriate touching?  It’s so hard to think about,” writes a mom to us about her kindergartener.

This mom is not alone in her hesitation to begin teaching safety skills to her child. Along with supervising our kids and knowing the people we entrust with their care, teaching a child some basic life skills about safety and boundaries in a calm and nonscary way can only aid them with tools to know what to do if someone crosses that line. We want our children to feel valuable and cherished, right? And that includes teaching them that it is okay to say “no”, and to say it like they mean it, and to tell a trusted adult and keep telling until they get someone’s attention. 

The short answer is…it’s never too early. A parent can teach a child about private versus public, the idea that a bathing suit covers our private areas, how we dress in our own homes versus out in public, and that touch should always be a choice unless a parent or a medical provider needs to examine private areas for health and safety. A parent can teach a child how to say “no” to Grandma’s unwelcome kiss if they would prefer a hug instead and honor their feelings. Of course those ideas will need to be repeated often throughout young childhood, but wouldn’t it be a better world if all kids learned that they have important control over their bodies? 

Because none of us got a manual about how to talk about these things when our kids were born (see Leeanne Seaver’s column in this issue if you need confirmation about that!) we run regular articles in The Communicator to learn from – both about instances of child abuse and neglect and ways to protect our kids, including teaching them about personal safety. Why? Because every child matters; because we need to raise awareness about difficult issues. Some past articles have been “Touch in Healthy Relationships” from Kidpower International and last issue’s “Reflecting on Tattling versus Telling” (Spring 2012) as well as Dr. Harold Johnson’s report on the abuse case developing at the Hawaii School for the Deaf in the Winter 2011 issue.

Join us at deafedchildabuse-neglect0co-wiki-educ.msu.edu to see more information for parents and professionals concerned about our children’s safety and success.

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