Dealing with rape

25 February 2013 - 02:37 By Stephanie Dawson-Cosser, Leonard Carr
Children have to be taught the value of their own privacy to prevent others taking advantage of them
Children have to be taught the value of their own privacy to prevent others taking advantage of them

How do i talk to my children about rape and sexual abuse, and how do i protect my children from becoming victims of such violations?

Shrink Rap

CREATING an environment that allows you to talk to children about abuse begins before the child can actually speak. A child's privacy has to be respected at an early stage.

Forced kissing, tickling beyond what the child enjoys and ignoring requests for privacy in the bathroom are examples of how adults give children the message that the child cannot assert personal boundaries.

Dismissing or ridiculing a child's protests implythat the child is not entitled to any power in the relationship.

If you treat a child in ways that show sensitivity and respect with regard to their autonomy over their bodies, then most of the battle is won.

What you need to teach children is the value of privacy, modesty, discretion and sensitivity to your own and the integrity of other people's personal space.

A discussion about sex, rape and sexual abuse needs to be about what values and practices show respect for boundaries.

When a child understands those concepts, you can talk about how some people manipulate or force others to do things that they would not do if they fully understood what was happening or felt empowered to stop such acts.

The awareness of those issues is vital not only to prevent children being victimised, but also to prevent them from becoming perpetrators. - Leonard Carr


THE first step is to understand that rape and sexual abuse are present in all social groups.

The biggest curse to our society is our inability to talk about sex and relationships. Our communities' silence on this subject is the first culprit. When a toddler is curious about his or her body, questions should be answered honestly in appropriate language.

As parents, we need to encourage openness by creating a family atmosphere where sexual issues and problems can be discussed without awkwardness. Also, we need to ensure children are given age-appropriate sexual information. This is not a one-off process, but a topic that will emerge in many conversations.

Children need to own their bodies. They have the right to be hugged, kissed and touched only when they want to be. They also have the right to say "no".

We teach our children every day through our own behaviour what is acceptable. Whatever abuse you hurl, tolerate or reject is the lesson you are giving your children of what is and is not acceptable.

Parents also need to have a zero-tolerance attitude towards abuse - whether verbal or physical - between siblings.

Rape happens when the perpetrator is able to isolate the victim. Provide supervision at all times. Keep our children off the streets and ensure they are in proper activities after school. - Stephanie Dawson-Cosser