In 64 Positive Things to Say to Kids you’ll find the phrases “Your body is your own.” and, “You have say over your body.” These phrases begin building a foundation of empowerment and consent when it comes to our kids’ bodies. This empowerment is a part of preventing sexual abuse and giving a place to start in discussing body safety with kids.
Discussing body safety is incredibly important; most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone a child knows (source NSOPW). To prevent sexual abuse children need to know how to set limits regarding their bodies and be empowered to say no to adults (or people in power). Children who can do this are better prepared to protect themselves from predators.
Finding the right words or materials for a discussion about body safety can be difficult. It’s common to worry about how to approach such a difficult topic. Will I be scaring my kids needlessly? How can I help them learn to be safe in a way that empowers them? How do I discuss preventing sexual abuse on their level while not oversimplifying or leaving out important information?
The NSOPW states that of all other family members, mothers are most likely to be told about sexual abuse or attempts at abuse. Of professionals, teachers are most likely to be told. Whether or not a mother or teacher might be told will depend on the child’s expected response from that person.
This makes having resources on discussing body safety and prevention of sexual abuse a must. Here are some books we recommend.
Books to Help Prevent Sexual Abuse
This post contains Amazon affiliate links to books we recommend. We have read these books and used them as teaching tools in our own families.
There are a number of great books on the topic of body safety and among our favorites are a series of books by Jayneen Sanders. Her parent guide helps you discuss body safety confidently with your kids. Her picture books make the subject easy to approach and help create a framework for continued conversations as your child grows.
Body Safety Education: A parents’ guide to protecting kids from sexual abuse is direct and to the point. At just over 50 pages it can be read in a single sitting, but don’t let the length of this book fool you; it is absolutely thorough. It hits every important topic including Body Education and why it’s important to teach children. You learn how to talk with your children about Body Safety education, recognizing unsafe people and situations, and what to do if a child discloses sexual abuse. There is a fantastic set of reproducible pages to help you teach your children about body safety, as well as a comprehensive list of organizations and websites to use as resources to prevent sexual abuse.
No Means No! is a picture book aimed at children ages 3-9 about setting personal boundaries. It helps children learn about consent in an age appropriate way. It includes notes to the reader and discussion questions that will help you make the most of this as a learning resource.
Alissa’s note – I’ve continued to use the themes from No Means No! in our family when we talk about treating each other with respect and listening to one another. It’s been good as a reminder to the grown-ups in the family that when a child says “Stop!” we stop – even if we are being playful. It’s been helpful for siblings to say when rough housing gets out of hand.
Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is a fairy tale for children ages 3-12 about a little knight with a secret that should not be kept. The story tackles the topic of sexual abuse and grooming by sexual predators honestly without being overly scary. Like all good fairy tales it ends with the villain being vanquished. This book also has a note to readers and discussion questions to help you use this fairy tale as a learning tool.
Alissa’s Note – I found that reading this once, giving it time, then coming back and reading it again has been a good way to let the story sink in and give my kids time to think of any questions they might have. It is not the most comfortable story for them, but the fairy tale format gave us a reassuring way to talk about what happened with this brave little knight.
Finally, I have to mention Pearl Fairweather Pirate Captain. While not explicitly about Body Safety Education and preventing sexual abuse, this picture book for children ages 4-11 is about respect and respectful relationships, recognizing bullying behaviors, and the prevention of violence; all of which empower children to maintain healthy boundaries and recognize unsafe people and situations. Like the other picture books by Jayneen Sanders, it includes a note to readers and discussion questions.
Are you discussing body safety with your kids? What resources have you found that you would recommend to parents to help prevent sexual abuse?