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Do your children have body safety rules?

January 30, 2017

Body safety for a child may well be a buzzword, but it’s critically important in the effort to prevent and protect children against child abuse.

Essentially, body safety is teaching children about boundaries – appropriate touch, private parts – and it contributes to confidence as well as to preventing child abuse. It empowers a child, gives them some control, and why wouldn’t parents want to teach body safety?

We teach water safety, to use seat belts in the car, to wear helmets when bicycling. Body safety is another measure children can use to protect them and contribute to their own safe outcomes. And there’s plenty of research to demonstrate why teaching body safety is so important. For example, research shows that:

  • Approximately 20 percent of girls (1 in 5) and 8 percent of boys (1 in 12.5) will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Pereda et al, 2009).
  • 95 percent of sexually abused children will be abused by someone they know and trust (NAPCAN2009).
  • Of those molesting a child under six, 50 percent were family members. Family members also accounted for 23 percent of those abusing children 12 to 17 years (Snyder, 2000).
  • The most vulnerable age for children to be exposed to sexual assault is between 3 and 8 years with the majority of onset happening between these ages(Browne & Lynch, 1994).
  • Males made up 90 percent of adult child sexual assault perpetrators, while 3.9 percent of perpetrators were female, with a further 6 percent classified as ’unknown gender’ (McCloskey & Raphael, 2005).
  • As many of 40 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by older or more powerful children.(Finkelhor, 2012) Note: With the easy access to pornography, we are seeing more and more cases of child on child sexual abuse, and older children/siblings sexually abusing younger children. Twenty-three percent of all 10 to 17 year olds experience exposure to unwanted pornography (Jones L., et al 2012).
  • Eighty-four percent of sexual victimization of children under 12 occurs in a residence (Snyder, 2000).
  • In 98 percent of child abuse cases reported to officials, children’s statements were found to be true(NSW Child Protection Council, cited in Dympna House 1998).
  • 1 in 3 adults would not believe a child if they disclosed sexual abuse(Australian Childhood Foundation, 2010).
  • Seventy-three percent of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least 1 year. Forty-five percent do not tell anyone for 5 years. Some never disclose(Broman-Fulks et al, 2007).
  • Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are 10 to 13 times more likely to attempt suicide. (Plunkett A, O’Toole B, Swanston H, Oates RK, Shrimpton S, Parkinson P 2001).
  • Children living without either parent (foster children) are 10 times more likely to be sexually abused than children who live with both biological parents. Children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner are at the highest risk: they are 20 times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents (Sedlack et al, 2010).

Educating children in body safety serves the best interests of all children and all of us. The more we know, the more we are aware, the more vigilant, the more each of us can do to help reduce the incidence of child abuse.

For more info, here’s a link to a “My Body Safety” poster: