Sometimes a rule is more effective than a discussion
By Patrick McGuire
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
Children throughout history have been taught safety rules by their parents and other caring adults. Many of us remember having such rules REPEATEDLY imparted to us:
- Look both ways before crossing the street.
- Don’t touch the pan on the stove.
- Don’t take candy from strangers.
- Don’t play with matches.
I am sure we remember many others as well, but here is one we may not have heard, and it serves many functions.
—If anyone ever tries to touch you where your bathing suit covers you, tell me. I need to know. And don’t worry, you will NOT get in trouble for telling me.
This is the first of two bathing suit rules. Now…kids being kids, they will likely ask “WHY?” Explain to them that the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit are special. Explain to them that God made their body and those parts stay covered to keep them healthy, clean, and safe.
The second rule is:
—If anyone tries to show you, or get you to touch their bathing suit parts, tell me. I need to know. And don’t worry, you will NOT get in trouble for telling me.
Be sure to include the part about the child not getting in trouble for telling. If a child thinks they will get in trouble for telling, they probably will not tell. Predators will try to convince a child not to tell, and may even try to convince them that the child will get in trouble for telling. So, we must convince our children that they will never get in trouble for telling. We must convince them even more so than a predator can convince them otherwise.
Finally, out of respect for their own bodies, children should know the names of their private body parts. Why? Because we cannot expect our children to communicate effectively without the right words. This, and the bathing suit rules have implications beyond abuse by the way. They aid in the promotion of good health and everyday hygiene as well.
So teach children that their body is from God. It is precious. Not only should they respect it, but everyone else should respect it too!
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