It is important for parents and guardians to teach their children about body safety. These conversations can begin as early as 3 years old and should be reinforced over time just like lessons about water or road safety. A good time to introduce body safety is during bath time or on the way to see the doctor.
Teach your child the proper names for all their body parts. Children should feel as comfortable saying penis, vagina, or breast as they are saying elbow, mouth, or leg. If you are uncomfortable talking about private parts, your child will pick up on this. You don't want your child to feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking questions about their body or telling you if someone is touching them.
Teach your child a simple, easy to follow body safety rule. For example, "Private parts are the parts of the body that are covered by a swimsuit. Nobody should ask to see or to touch your private parts. Nobody should ask you to look at or touch their private parts."
Teach your child that body safety is part of personal safety. You have to wear a helmet when you ride your bike. You have to put on your seat belt when you are in a car. You have to look both ways when you cross the street. Nobody can look at your private parts, touch your private parts, or ask you to touch their private parts. Make sure your child knows that these personal safety rules follow them everywhere - at home, at a friend's house, at school, and in the community.
Teach your child that they are the boss of their body. Don't force your child to give hugs and kisses to people they do not want to (even grandma). Inappropriate touching, especially by a trusted adult, can be very confusing to a child. Reinforce the idea that their body is their own and they can protect it.
Teach your child to speak up if anyone breaks the body safety rules. Make sure your child knows they should say "NO" and tell you if anyone breaks a body safety rule or touches them is a way they don't like or that scares them. Make sure they know they should tell you no matter who touched them this way, even if it is someone they love, trust, or care about.
Review body safety regularly with your child. By incorporating body safety into your regular conversations with your child, you let them know it is safe to talk about this subject.