Inappropriate touching is a difficult area to define when it comes to children. Any touching when used in a sexual context is considered inappropriate and is referred to as groping, spooning, or fondling. Children, especially young children, are extremely vulnerable to being touched inappropriately because they are unaware of what is and what is not appropriate or safe touching.
When educating younger children regarding this sensitive topic be sure to consider carefully the words that are used to describe the difference between good or appropriate touching versus bad or inappropriate touching. In order to protect children, parents should always use the proper anatomical name of the male and female private body parts. It may seem cute to give body parts silly names, but consider what can happen if your child is sexually abused or touched inappropriately.
Imagine your child describing to law enforcement, medical personnel, or a judge how someone touched their "wiener" or "vajay-jay". It is vitally important that he or she be able to identify their body part by the correct anatomical name. This gives the child clarity and credibility if required to testify in court.
Using the correct anatomical names for the private body parts of boys and girls also teach them not to be ashamed of their body. In addition it will increase the likelihood the perpetrator is convicted. If it is unclear what actually happened to the child due to confusing silly nick names of the private areas the jury may not be able to agree on a verdict.
When discussing inappropriate touching with children, the age of the child will help determine what words to use regarding their body. Toddlers and pre-school children should be told not to touch or allow anyone to touch the areas of the body that are covered by a bathing suit. Explaining in further detail that the areas covered by a bathing suit are their private areas. Help children understand that if someone touches them or makes them touch any area on the body that makes them feel yucky in their tummy the child should tell mommy or daddy.
When talking to children about appropriate and inappropriate touching use language or vocabulary that is age appropriate. Understand that children will have questions that a parent may not feel is necessary to answer but if they are asking the question, they have either heard someone talking about it or they saw something that led to the curiosity of that question. Either can offer a parent valuable insight into where the child's development is sexually and if there is a cause for concern.
Tell children that teachers, baby sitters, coaches, Boy Scout and Girl Scout leaders, school mates, classmates, friends, friendís older siblings, friend's parents, mom or dadís friends, grandparents, aunts, uncles, stepparents, stepsiblings, or the minister at church would never have a reason to touch their private areas unless they were injured.
Finally, one of the most empowering lessons a parent can teach a child is to teach them to say no to anyone who is touching them inappropriately or making the child feel uncomfortable. Teaching a child to say no is vital to giving them the right to protect themselves from predators. Do not force children to give or accept kissing or hugging from anyone they do not want to hug or kiss, including relatives.
Instead, teach children how to respectfully say no to an adult and instead offer a handshake. If family members get upset about this family rule explain that it is important a child knows it is safe to tell an adult no. This is not being disrespectful but teaching them to protect themselves from people who prey on innocent children. Education is a powerful protection technique for children of all ages.