Reports of rape are at an all-time high. Statistics tell us that people aged 12 – 24 are 92% more likely to be raped; and 22% of all rapes of females occur before the age of 12.
This abuse is because children are more naive around this age. It is generally easier to take advantage of them. Child molesters may not always be strangers. They could be family members, friends and even older teens. As such, we cannot overstress the need to protect your child from molestation.
Further research shows that at least 15% of people under age 17 will get raped and those who are raped are up to 10 times more likely to abuse drugs. They are also are 13% more likely to contemplate suicide.
At this age, the beliefs and attitudes we help them acquire are what they would carry into adulthood and their future relationships.
This talk is a defining factor in moulding how kids turn out. Whether they become rapists spiralling into drug use and suicides, or whether they become respectful young adults. Whether they are victims of sexual crime or whether they are autonomous young adults.
Teaching what consent is
A very typical way to teach children about consent is using the ‘tickle’ example. This example shows children that they are in control of their bodies.
Do you tickle your child(ren)? Do you stop when they say stop? Set boundaries by clearly explaining that tickling should always stop when someone says ‘stop’ or ‘no’. Show them that they alone are in control of their bodies.
Encourage your young ones to clearly say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ around the house.
To ask before hugging, or playing with their sibling’s toys, etc. Teach them that a person can ‘revoke consent at any time’ by making them ask each time they need the same thing. Doing so teaches them that because someone wanted that hug, tickle or to play before, doesn’t mean they always will.
Helping them understand consent
Teaching them the three basic premises of consent in a non-sexual way breaks it down into its simplest terms for easy understanding. It allows them to apply it into everyday life as well and their friendships and future relationships.
- Ask: Encourage them to ask for permission, be it in dealing with their friends or siblings. They should have to ask before entering a sibling’s room, borrowing their clothes or playing with their toys. In return, do the same to them, knock before entering their rooms, stop tickling when they say stop, etc. Doing so will teach them autonomy and respect for other people’s bodies and things that belong to them.
- Listen: Respecting their responses is crucial. If they say ‘yes’, then they want you to touch them, enter their rooms, see them naked. If they say ‘no’, then they do not want it. Don’t force them. If they aren’t sure, it’s best you leave them alone. If you try to touch them and they pull away, stop. Thus teaching kids to be attentive to others’ wishes.
- Respect: It is essential for your children to understand that consent (for any activity) can change. A person can say yes now, and no later. Everyone is in control of their body. So they should not get mad at if others say no, do not want a touch/play, or for them to enter their room. They should never try to make others change their mind forcibly.
What is rape?
Explain rape by saying: Rape is when someone forces you to let them touch your genitals, or when they force you to touch theirs.
Explain that NO ONE should touch them or ask them to feel their own genitals. If anyone tries to, they have the right to kick, punch, bite, pull, drag, slap and scream. They should report any abuse to you. Their most trusted advocate who will always believe them.
Several young adults have been faced with rape and didn’t recognise it at the time because although they were familiar with the word, they didn’t understand that it could happen with a family member or their crush and they wish their parents had explicitly talked to them about it.
As they grow older, read and discuss stories from multiple sources, openly and calmly talk about it, and involve your children in discussions about the complexities of rape.
Never place any blame on the victim. Doing so would teach them to speak up should they be in the situation. Don’t forget to continuously point out that rape is rape and force is, in fact, still force. Regardless of the circumstance surrounding the relationship shared by the two people.