The topic of preventing child sexual abuse going forward is one that comes up regularly in TALK meetings, especially for those who are parents themselves. Recently I saw an article from D2L, a large US organization that empowers adults to protect children, that I think is an interesting way to open a family discussion about bodies and behavior. Below is a quick outline but check out their full article which comes with a worksheet to get you started.
It’s simply a set of guidelines that reflect the values and expectations of your family. This should be a living, breathing document; you’ll need to adjust some boundaries or add new guidelines (curfews, for example, will likely change with age). Make your Family Code of Conduct a team project by creating it together with your kids. Ask them what they think should be included. Don’t be afraid to get specific, either. Talk about physical boundaries and what acceptable interactions look like; incorporate values that address parents’ roles in listening and responding when kids disclose discomforts of any kind. You might also develop rules about sharing, technology use, curfews, or more.
- How you treat others: i.e. How do you show respect? How do you share? How do you honor boundaries? What are the rules around keeping secrets? What are acceptable ways to touch each other? Remember, talking openly about child sexual abuse helps minimize the risk for it.
- Play Dates (for younger kids) and Hangouts: i.e. Who will be at the house/mall/pool/etc. with the kids? Will there be older siblings? How will the kids be supervised? How well do you know the family? These questions can also be applied to online activities such as games and video chats – where are they going, who will be there, what will they be doing?
- Photos: Is anyone allowed to take or post photos of your children? Where are they allowed to be posted?
- Sleepovers: i.e. Will you allow your child to participate in sleepovers? What are the sleeping arrangements?
- Babysitters: i.e. How do you choose who babysits? What are the rules for babysitters? What are the rules for evening sitting vs. daytime sitting?
- Internet & Social Media Safety: i.e. At what age will they get a cell phone or social media? How will you monitor use? Where will devices live at night? Discuss what information should never be given out online.
- Lessons & Camps: i.e. What are the safety policies? What does supervision look like?
We are working toward a world free of child sexual abuse where adults have the courage to protect kids. Through a combination of research, education, and community advocacy, we use a social behavior change approach to pioneer new training initiatives that bring child sexual abuse prevention to the attention of the broader cultural conversation. Our work empowers adults and organizations to bring best-practices in child safety to their own communities.