In light of the recent murder if Leiby Kletzky, as a former counselor for over ten years to men, women, and children who have been sexually abused and Director of a Sexual Assault & Abuse Services Program, I would like to share some information that may be helpful in talking with children about this issue. Since most children are sexually abused by someone they know, not a stranger, it is important to make sure all bases are covered when talking about this issue with your children.
A few personal safety training items I encourage parents to review with their children follow.
1) When talking about parts of the body no one is supposed to touch or look at, such as the parts of the body the bathing suit covers, I include that even if Abba/Imma, Mom or Dad, Grandma/Grandpa, or a doctor touch you while cleaning/examining you and that makes you feel uncomfortable, then the child is to tell a trusted adult such as the other parent/ grandparent. I encourage parents to teach this together and to both say If I (Imma) do something please tell (Abba) and vise versa, saying this in front of each other.
2) I also make up a slew of examples of people the kids know who may try to get them to go with them in a variety of circumstances. An acquaintance or family member may try to get a child to leave their home, a playground, or school to look for a puppy, buy surprise ice cream for the family, go for a walk. I include grandparents, neighbors, the Rabbi/Rebbetzin, anyone who the children see to have any form of authority over them and likely feel quite comfortable with, and stress the following:
Under no circumstances may you leave with anyone without Abba or Imma’s permission. Some examples I used with the kids teaching recently on Shabbat were…
A–You are playing in your front yard, I (Mrs.Murphy) drive up and get out of the car. Then I offer to take the child to HEB to go get ( ice cream) as a surprise for the rest of the family who are inside the house. What would you do?
B–Another example was helping someone who approaches you in the bathroom at the neighborhood pool and who is somewhat familiar to you. The person (maybe a lifeguard or neighbor) wants you to help search for their new lost puppy. What would you do?
3) Children must have permission to say no to an adult. It is not safe to teach children that they must always obey all adults. Adults must earn trust and respect and an fault should never make or ask a child to break the parents rules!
4) Also discuss how doing a mitzvah (a good deed), must be done with parental consent, because helping can sometimes lead to danger!
Since the majority of children are sexually abused by someone they know; these teaching points are key to a child’s personal safety.
May HaShem guard and protect the children He has entrusted to us!
Rebbetzin Lynette Murphy