Talking with your child about their body
Everybody’s got a body, and talking to your child about theirs from an early age can help support a safer future for them. By helping children understand that their bodies are special and deserve to be treated with care, we aim to help them grow up respecting their bodies and boundaries, and the bodies and boundaries of others.
CONVERSATION GUIDE FOR PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS: Hot Chocolate Talk Guide to Conversations Around Personal Safety and Sexual Abuse - see guide now. Includes tips by age, words to know, and simple safety rules.
Statistics that support this work and why it's important:
Research has consistently demonstrated that childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is a factor associated with greater risk for adult sexual assault.
(Arata, 1999; Cloitre et al., 1996; Messman & Long, 1996; Messman Moore & Long, 2000, 2002; Noll et al., 2003; Roodman & Clum, 2001)
In fact, a review of the research literature indicates that CSA survivors are two to three times more likely to be sexually assaulted in adolescence and adulthood than the general population. (e.g., Arata, 2002; Cloitre et al., 1996; Wyatt, Guthrie, & Notgrass, 1992)
John Jay College of Criminal Justice stated “Parents should use correct anatomical language when referring to sexual organs starting in childhood. One study found that sex offenders were less likely to offend against a child if the child knew correct names for body parts; the offender felt that there was a greater risk that he or she would get caught as these children were more likely to talk to their parents.
Recent research shows that knowing the correct anatomical terms enhances kids’ body image, self-confidence, and openness. It also discourages their susceptibility to molesters. When children are abused, having the correct language helps both the child and adults deal with disclosure and—if necessary—the forensic interview process.
According to Laura Palumbo of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, "We need all adults to be partners in teaching healthy childhood sexual development, and square one is body parts. Educators and parents should communicate accurately, without stigma or shame.”
Understand the factors that put people at risk for sexual violence through the CDC's Risk Factors for Perpetration.
Understand consequences of child sexual abuse - know the signs.
“We always called my private parts cute names growing up - so glad to have a resource like this so I feel comfortable teaching my children about their bodies!”