15 October 2015
Protecting children from harm is one of the basic instincts any parent has. Whether this means putting their seat belt on in the car, making sure that they are home at a set time or ensuring that they don’t see or hear anything inappropriate, most parents will go out of their way to make sure that their child isn’t harmed in any way.
This instinct to protect children from danger and unpleasantness can make talking about topics like paedophilia difficult. Most parents would prefer that their children didn’t have to think about the dangers of paedophiles. However, in order to keep them safe, teaching them about paedophilia, grooming and exploitation is one of life’s most uncomfortable lessons parents must teach.
Talk to your children about sex
Before parents starting talking to their children about paedophiles, it’s important that they build up an honest, open and trusting relationship. Parents should begin talking to their child about sex as they get older, explain the biological and emotional issues that it involves.
If children know that they can talk to their parents about sex, not only will it be easier to talk to them about paedophilia, it will also mean they will be more likely to talk to their parents if they are approached or exploited by a paedophile.
The exact words and details that parents chose when talking to their children will depend on the child’s age and maturity. By starting when they first begin to become aware of their bodies, parents can demystify sex and help to ensure the child isn’t too embarrassed to talk to them.
Discuss what a loving and safe relationship is
The next step is to discuss with children what a loving and safe relationship is. By explaining to children that a loving relationship should feel comfortable, supportive, happy, safe and respectful, parents can help children to understand and recognise when a relationship is inappropriate or exploitative.
Parents should also make sure that young people understand the concept of consent and that they have the confidence to say ‘no’ when they feel uncomfortable.
Explain that a small percentage of adults feel attracted to children
When parents feel that their child is mature enough, they can sit them down and explain that some older people have a mental condition that makes them attracted to children.
As the majority of sexual abuse and exploitation is committed by relatives and family friends it’s important children understand that paedophiles aren’t just strangers.
Once parents have started a dialogue with their children about paedophilia and sexual abuse, they need to make sure that the channels of communication stay open and that the child understands the issues as clearly as possible.
Check out the rest of the Rose Project blog to find out more about protecting your child from CSE. Or, point your child to our online chat function where they can receive support from a friendly face and help them cope with the future.