Child Safety Tips May Newsletter
Child Safety Tips - May Newsletter

Happy May to you! April's National Child Abuse Prevention Month has drawn to a close and what an exciting month it was.  As many of you know, we appeared on an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and Oprah shared My Body Belongs to Me with her viewers.  It was an incredible experience and a terrific opportunity to inform parents about the importance of talking to their children about child sexual abuse prevention.


Many of you have asked for a link to the show so I am providing it here.  Feel free to share it with friends or family who may have missed it.


As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes for almost 15 years, one of the most surprising facts that I have learned is that 93% of all child sexual abuse occurs at the hands of someone known to the child.  This means that teaching "stranger danger" alone is no longer enough.


Below are three tips to teach children that will help keep them safe from child sexual abuse. Feel free to sign up for our monthly newsletter at for more helpful safety tips.  Also join the discussion in the Child Safety Network on LinkedIn.


1. No secrets. Period.


Encourage your children to tell you about things that happen to them that make them feel scared, sad or uncomfortable.  If children have an open line of communication, they will be more inclined to alert you to something suspicious before it becomes a problem.  The way I effectuate this rule is as follows: If someone, even a grandparent, were to say something to my child such as "I'll get you an ice cream later, but it will be our secret", I firmly, but politely say "We don't do secrets in our family."  Then I say to my child "Right? We don't do secrets.  We can tell each other everything."



2. Teach your child the correct terms for their body parts.


This will make them more at ease if they need to tell you about a touch that made them feel uncomfortable. Additionally, if a child uses a word like cookie or peanuts to describe their private parts, a disclosure might be missed.  A busy teacher who hears a child say, He touched my cookie, might just offer the child another cookie instead of offering help. Inform children that the parts of their body covered by their bathing suit are private and are for no one else to see or touch (noting the necessary exceptions for bathing, potty issues and medical treatment in the presence of Mom or Dad).  Keep in mind that children may be confronted with another child who touches their private parts.  Explain that private parts are private from everyone including other children.  The same rules apply if someone touches them inappropriately they should tell a parent or teacher right away.



3. Let children decide for themselves how they want to express affection.


Children should not be forced to hug or kiss if they are uncomfortable.  Even if they are your favorite aunt, uncle or cousin, your child should not be forced to be demonstrative in their affection. While this may displease you, by doing this, you will empower your child to say no to inappropriate touching.



These tips are a great place to start the conversation.  It is one that needs to continue as your child gets older. Have a question about how to approach the subject?  Have a great tip to share?  Email us at [email protected] and we will try to address it in our next newsletter.  Until then, stay safe.


All the best,



Jill Starishevsky

Prosecutor, Child Abuse/Sex Crimes

Author, My Body Belongs to Me

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