How do you warn a child about the dangers of harassment and abuse? What are the right words to use to avoid creating anxieties and fears?
We asked this to, a doctor and psychotherapist of the developmental age and author of the book "The unspoken words" (Franco angeli Editore).
First of all, the famous recommendation "do not accept candy from strangers" is useless, both because in the vast majority of cases the abuser is not an unknown person at all, but someone the child knows well, and because it is too abstract and generic a statement: for a small child it is enough for one person to speak to him and be nice to him and he is no longer a stranger.
Clear guidance on how to deal with harassment
Instead, it is important that parents give clear indications on how to act.
The victims, in fact, say that when they found themselves in these situations, they sensed the danger but did not know what to do.
"The little ones in front of an adult who asks them" strange "things such as looking at the genitals or touching them, feel strongly disoriented and confused but they do not know (because no one has explained it to them) what they should do".
Here is what a child needs to be taught:
First: say no
It has been found that in many cases children are unable to resist harassment. It is therefore important to explain to a child that if someone violates the bathing suit rule he must say no.
The words can be: "If someone tells you to do something in the parts that are covered by the bathing suit, you have to say no" and then you can add "those are the private parts and only mom and dad can touch them. when they wash you or the pediatrician when they visit you ".
According to: go away immediately
Third: run and tell someone
This is the hardest part, in fact in the presence of abuse children are ashamed to talk about it. If outside the school there is a gentleman who gives him a slap, they tell it immediately, if there is an exhibitionist, however, they do not say it.
Affective and sexual education
And in these cases the best prevention is good emotional and sexual education. Which means: always be available to answer (using age-appropriate words) when the little ones ask questions about sexuality and not block them or tell them "you are too young for this".
Useful are the books: between the ages of four and six you can start looking at a book together that explains how children are born; between six and nine years, take books that tell the difference between males and females, even from an anatomical point of view; between the ages of nine and eleven, books about body development and puberty; between the ages of 11 and 14, books on relationality and sexuality so that children learn to differentiate between having sex and making love.
Read also: Talking about sex to children: this is why it is important
Teach that the body is important, unique and special
In the book "The unspoken words" Pellai through nursery rhymes explains important concepts to children, such as respect for the body:
"Our body is an irreplaceable treasure. Just like a treasure, it must be preserved and made important for its value. Your body is so important that very few people can "touch" it: you, first of all, your parents when they wash you, dress you or cuddle you, the pediatrician and doctors when they have to visit you or you are sick. Eventually other people can touch your body too, for example grandparents or the babysitter if they have to bathe you, but it is important that your mom and dad always know what is happening to you. If someone hurts or bothers you because they touch your body in a way you don't like, tell them to stop right away and then talk to mom and dad about it.Read also: Sexuality Education. A task of the family or even of the school?
- child abuse
- harassment and minors
- 3-5 children years