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Sexual Assault Prevention: How Aware, Prepared is Your Child?

In August, Indianapolis saw two high profile arrests on sexual assault. Jared Fogle,Subway spokesperson and Indiana native, pled guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography and to traveling across state lines to force young girls into sex. Shortly after his plea, former Olympics gymnastics coach, Marvin Sharp, also of Indianapolis, was charged with child pornography and sexual misconduct with a minor.

As if these cases were not disturbing enough, also last month, a report commissioned by State Representative and DVN board member, Christina Hale, on the prevalence of adolescent sexual violence found 1 in 6 high school girls in Indiana had been a victim of sexual assault by age 18..

Not a new problem

Sexual assault has been a problem since the beginning of time. We aren’t seeing an influx in victims, but we might be seeing an increase in reporting, and with social media always at our fingertips, it’s easier to spread the word. Yet still, sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes. It’s more common than we’d like to believe,and the majority of victims know their perpetrator.

What can we do?

Preventing sexual assault starts in the home. National campaigns such as It’s On Us and NO MORE help raise awareness about sexual assault and how to report it. Here are some other things you can do to help protect and prepare your children for inappropriate sexual situations and to help them later express their own sexuality appropriately.

 

  1. Teach your child about consent. This is so basic and easy. Disney’s preschool cartoon, Doc McStuffins, has a great video that shows just how easy it is to teach consent.
  2. Teach your children the medically accurate names of their body parts. This removes the shame and stigma associated with sex and gives them ownership of their body.
  3. Explain how their vagina or penis is a private part and no one should ever touch it but them. Be clear that they would never get in trouble if someone did touch them and how important it is that they tell you or another trusted adult if it were to happen.
  4. Talk to your children about the importance of respect in relationships.

These are ongoing conversations. Laying the foundation when they are young is important, but continue to talk to them as they get older. I have to remind my son, who is six, that when his sister asks him to stop doing something, he needs to stop immediately. I remind his sister of the same policy.

While sex is a very personal, private and natural act, society has many misconceptions and stigmas associated with it. We, as parents, have a responsibility and the privilege to teach and talk to our children about sex and to model healthy relationships for them.

Because, unfortunately, there will always be child predators. They’re smooth, they seem to be trustworthy, and they are right in our own backyard.

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Kelly McBride has been the executive director for the Domestic Violence Network since November 2013 and with the organization since July 2010.

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