‘It’s MY body’ – a children’s book by Lory Freeman written as a means for adults to discuss sexual abuse with their children without any awkwardness or alarm, instead focusing on open and sincere communication.
Obviously small children are not ready for explicit details on the issue of sexual assault however it is important that they learn how to make decisions about their bodies and how to communicate this with others. There is no direct reference to sexual abuse or violence throughout the story however the book illustrates touching codes in which children can use in order to protect themselves.
This is a really great step in protecting children from sexual assault however this is much more education which needs to happen in these early years.
Consent, something generally framed as “no” means “stop” in a child’s mind. Yes it is important that all children understanding the meaning of no however this is not the only way to show a lack of consent.
It is understandable why many parents withdraw from this topic of discussion with their children as it does seem a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless it should be taught. It is extremely important as it will structure the way a child acts in future relationships throughout both adolescence and adulthood.
Parents should always be modelling consent to their children and allowing them to make choices. Also by treating other adults well with good communication and boundaries it will demonstrate good behaviour for their children.
This dialogue should then never stop and should develop as the child does. It is also imperative the discussion should be balanced with children knowing that touching is not bad in every case but there are boundaries.
For more information you can check out steps on how to teach your child at different ages here http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/03/teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/