“Say No to strangers,
Say No,no no no no no!
Say No to strangers
And never with them go!
Short or tall,
Thin or fat
Young or old
With a big flat cap!
Say no to strangers
Say no no no no no no!”
I remember this song from when I was in Year Four at Primary School and a Police officer came in to assembly to teach us about ‘Stranger Danger’.
They only sang it a couple of times in that assembly, but well, I’m linguistic and it had a catchy tune.
The thing is though, they didn’t tell us the truth, did they? You can say ‘No’ to strangers, but it isn’t usually strangers who attack their victims. According to RAINN 47% of rapes are committed by a friend or acquaintance.
How do you go about protecting your kids from stuff like this though? Without scaring them so much that they won’t speak to anyone I mean?
Well I’m no expert but this is what I have done:
- Start Young
- Teach them to say NO. They can say no to hugs, kisses, tickles…anything that involves touching another person or being touched by someone else. They can say no to ANYTHING. Even poor Grandma wanting a kiss.
- Teach your kids an important and empowering word: “STOP!” Kissing, tickling, chasing, hugging are all OK…until they are not OK. And that’s when the person who says ‘stop’ must be heard. All my kids know that if someone says stop, we stop. This will protect them in the future because they will be able to say that word with the right level of gumption and emphasis so that there is no doubt in the listener’s mind as to whether they really mean it. There’s nothing like practising a word like that with your siblings! It soon becomes definite and loud and even ferocious in it’s strength. The other thing about the use of this word is that they have all heard it said. And they know they must listen. They all know the importance of the word. Consent can be given but it can also be taken away.
- Encourage honesty. No secrets. I was once babysitting (pre kids) for my friend’s children. She told me to put them to bed at 8:45pm and I wanted to be cool Auntie Mel and I let them stay up until 9.30 saying “Shush! Don’t tell your Mum!” I wanted it to be “our little secret” not because I am a raging paedophile but because I wanted them to like me and think I was a great baby sitter and also because I was slightly afraid that their mother, my best friend would kill me for keeping them up too late…and what did they do? The little buggers? They only bloody told her didn’t they? Because they had an open and honest relationship with their mother. I did get told off. But I also got a lesson from my wise friend who explained why Mums and kids don’t have secrets like that. I learned. And my kids tell me everything (I hope) because I have really tried to replicate that level of honesty with my own children.
My friend’s children are now all grown up and the eldest is starting University. They both have a brilliant relationship with their parents and I hope that they both have a wonderful time at Uni. It is with them in mind that I wanted to share a video recently released by the CPS about the issue of sexual consent.
The video says:
Consent is just about making sure that every time we engage in sexual activity with someone else we are confident that they are into it too…and just because somebody says yes it doesn’t mean it’s yes for always, it just means that it is yes for that moment. They can withdraw consent at any time whenever they want to.
I hope that I am managing to teach these truths to my children. At the tender ages of 10, 9, 6 and 2 I don’t want to be getting into details of sexual consent, but consent? Oh yes! They know what that means!