It is sad that 34% of sexual abuse cases occur in children younger than 9, and in 90% of those cases, the perpetrators are either family members or people which the child knows and trust to an extent like a teacher, neighbour, friend, or even cousin. And this is why parents should teach their children “consent” from a very young age, it will help them set boundaries, learn respect for themselves and others.
You might be thinking your child is too young to be given lectures on consent but since sexual abuse starts at a young age, so should this kind of a talk.
For a start, practice asking from home, for example;
Ask your child ”May I borrow your pen?” This way, your child knows, yes you bought the pen for her, but it’s now hers and shouldn’t be taken without permission.
“May I eat this food” This teaches your child to stop, think and ask before doing anything, and not do things on impulse.
Ask them, “Can I hold your hand?” or asking their friend might seem too formal but it’s so they know that when they aren’t comfortable with being touched, they can say ‘No.”
And if someone wants to hug them “Aunty Bola wants to give you a hug. Is that ok?” By asking, you are making it known to your child that no one has the right to touch them if they don’t want to be touched.
In the future, these acts will help them understand the concept of consent. If a child learns early in life that they have full ownership of their body, they will be able to say “No” to anyone touching them in places they don’t want to be touched.
Which is why, if your child says she/he doesn’t want to give aunty Bola a hug, don’t push it. Your child has the right to say “yes’ or “No”
Teaching your child to set boundaries is a vital skill. And by allowing your child to decide who should kiss them or hug them goes a long way in teaching your child about boundaries.
In the same vein, children should know that other people have a right over their body as well, teach them to respect “No” from anyone. And a person’s “no” doesn’t mean “Yes”, children lacking in this teaching are the ones who rape girls.
Your child also need to know that humans change their mind, just because their friend was okay with a hug or holding hands some minutes ago doesn’t mean they still want to hold hands now.
Consent for one act does not imply consent for another. If their friend is okay with hugging, he might not be fine with kisses.
Gradually teach your children these things and watch them grow into fine women and good-natured men. And by so doing you are also empowering your girls and breeding your boys to be good men who won’t rape other people’s girls.