Open communication and education key to keeping kids safe 

Talking to kids about their body and their rights is one of the best ways to protect them against sexual assault.

And you can start talking to them as soon as they are born.

In fact, said sexual health and family life educator Saleema Noon, it often helps parents to chat to their newborn about all their body parts using proper terminology.

That way said Noon, when kids start talking back using proper names and not cutesy nicknames feels perfectly normal.

"There are parents who have difficulty talking about sex," said Noon.

"But it really is a safety issue. Protecting your kids against abuse starts with using technical terminology.

"A parent, who works in a daycare facility, told me not too long ago about a little boy who came there and told one of the workers that Grandpa was playing with his toy last night. (The woman) said, ‘how nice’ and went on with her day.

"Well in a four-week period this little boy came back and told the same thing to every worker there and sure enough when they called the family in, in their home the penis was called the toy.

"So teaching technical terminology is critical."

Noon, who writes a weekly column for the Vancouver Sun and leads workshops on sex education for kids, parents and others, tells kids there are three private parts of their body: the lips, the breasts and the genitals (anything between the legs).

"I also let them know that if they are in situation where someone is trying to look at or touch their private parts, or someone is trying to make them look at our touch their private parts they are allowed to do anything they can to get away," said Noon.

"The message is no matter who it is, even if it is an adult, even if it is someone you know, even if it a family friend or a relative they are allowed to do anything they can to stop the behaviour.

"I tell them this is the only time their parents will give them permission to be rude, even to an adult."

According to a national Health Canada study, in eight out of 10 sexual abuse cases the victims knew their abusers, and in four out of 10 cases the abusers were fathers or father figures.

Less than one in 10 child abuse cases is ever reported to authorities. Most sex offenders have an average of 17 victims before they are caught.

Noon tells kids that once they have got away they must tell an adult they trust immediately.

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