Day One - The Sexual Assault and Trauma Resource Center



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Talk To Your Child

If you're not talking regularly to your child, someone else may be. The fact is, one in four girls and one in six boys will be a victim of sexual abuse before his/her eighteenth birthday. In most cases, the offender is someone the child knows. Please, help stop this before it starts. Talk to your child openly. The more truthful and comfortable you are with them, the more they will be in return.

To learn more, contact Day One at 421-4100, ext. 109.

Many parents are not aware of the prevalence of sexual violence in our society or how to discuss this difficult topic with their children. This April, during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please take the time to talk to your kids and to help reduce the risk of child sexual abuse.

  1. Know the Facts: One in every four girls and one in every six boys will be a victim of sexual abuse before age 18. As many as 40 million Americans experience sexual victimization as children. Only one in ten child victims ever report the abuse. And in 93% of the cases, the abuser is someone the child knows, often a relative or family friend.
  2. Reduce the Risk: Understand that abusers often become well acquainted with potential victims and place themselves in family activities or interests of the victims to earn their trust. Be sure your child understands that it is your job to protect them. Teach your children that it is not just strangers who might try to hurt them.
  3. Talk to your Child: Make sure he or she knows that abuse is something you can and want to talk about. Talk early and often to children about their bodies. Let them know what unsafe touching is, and that it is never okay. Explain that nobody has the right to touch them in ways that make them feel uncomfortable. Listen quietly and attentively because it is difficult for children to talk about these issues. Know how children communicate. Be patient, they are often made to feel ashamed and do not always give the entire story right away.
  4. Be Aware: Although there are no obvious signs of sexual abuse, certain behaviors may signal a child is being sexually abused. Emotional signs can be more obvious than physical signs and in some children there are no signs at all. Children may show fear or dislike of certain people; adult sexual behavior; or persistent sexual behavior with other children, themselves, toys, or pets. They may also make indirect comments about the abuse.
  5. Be Prepared/ Take Action: Remember that your reaction has a powerful influence on vulnerable children. Know that children are afraid of disappointing their parents or disrupting their family situations. Believe the child and make sure they know you believe them. If you suspect there is a case of child sexual abuse you should immediately contact the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) at 1-800-RI-CHILD. They have trained professionals who will assist you. If you need additional resources, please contact the Victims of Crime Helpline at 1-800-494-8100, 24 hours a day.
  6. Believe Victims and Support Survivors: Respect and understand the issues that victims face. Never blame the victim. Community outreach and prevention are key to dealing with the issue of sexual abuse get involved (Talking to your child is one way!). Volunteer or financially support organizations that fight the tragedy of child sexual abuse.


    How to define sexual abuse. It is not necessary to use the words "sexual abuse" or "sexual assault" when talking to a preschooler about sexual abuse. A story of a bully taking another child's toy is used to explain that no one has the right to use their age or size to hurt another person.

    From the discussion of a bully, it is easy to begin to talk about someone using their age or size to touch the child's body. You can begin with an example of the younger child being hit or pushed. Let your child know that you are there to help them whenever they need you. Also, let the child know that they always have the right to tell someone to stop touching or hitting them.

    All children should know the correct terms for their body parts. If a child has a problem with one of the private parts of their body -- breast, buttocks, penis, testes, vulva, or vagina, using the proper name will make it easier for adults to understand their problem. Parents should always call all body parts by their correct name.

    Children should be taught that some parts of their body are private. The parts of the body covered by a bathing suit are not usually shared with other people. Let children know that they should talk to a trusted adult about any touching to the private parts of their bodies.

    Listen to what your children are saying and take them seriously. If you are not sure what your child means, be patient. They often drop hints or ask "what if" questions to test out your responses. Let them tell you at their own pace and listen supportively. Young children are often not sure if they have a problem. Don't minimize their worries or feelings.

    Never tell your children that they must or should participate in personal interactions with others. Always ask your children if they would like to give someone a kiss or hug. If your child says "no," accept the "no" and suggest a wave or smile as a greeting or good bye. Children need to know that you believe that they have the right to decide who they touch and who touches them. Empower children.




1-800-494-8100 24-Hour Victims of Crime HelpLine

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