Child Sexual Abuse

A child is raped every 3 minutes in South Africa

It is Child Protection Week in South Africa and we should all strive to protect our children from neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, sexual abuse is very serious and common, but as common as it is, people find it a difficult topic to discuss. Most often, the offender is known by the child and parents. The offender often uses manipulation to coerce the child into participating and keeping it from the parents. Below are some tips for parents to prevent child sexual abuse:

  1. Have a “no secrets” policy in your home

Teach your children that they can tell you anything and that they should tell you everything. Teach them good surprises, for example birthday presents or parties, are okay, but keeping secrets from each other are not okay.

  1. Teach your children about their bodies

Learning about their bodies and what each body part is called is good. Teach your children the correct names for their genitals and that their genitals are private. Don’t teach them to be ashamed of their bodies. It’s acceptable to talk about their ‘private parts’ with you or a doctor, but if someone else makes them feel uncomfortable about their bodies, they should tell you.

  1. As your children age, create an environment where sex is discussed openly

Don’t create shame around sex in your home. If you discuss it openly and age-appropriately, your children will learn that they can discuss anything with you, including their development. Reiterate what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.

  1. Have rules in your home

Have boundaries in your home. Teach your children to respect each other’s boundaries and their friends’ boundaries. This way, they learn that they too have boundaries and if people don’t respect these, they can say something. Basic rules, for example, knock before entering a room, use the bathroom with the door closed, no sleeping at friends’ houses unless mom and dad say it’s okay, will help keep your children safe.

If your child does tell you that someone has been sexually abusing them, take it seriously. Report it to the police, a paediatrician or a psychologist. You can also get help at Childline South Africa: 0800 055 555