Sunday, December 30, 2012

How to teach The Underwear Rule?The Underwear Rule was developed to help parents and carers start a discussion with their children. It can be a highly effective tool to prevent against sexual abuse.

How to teach The Underwear Rule?

The Underwear Rule was developed to help parents and carers start a discussion with
their children. It can be a highly effective tool to prevent against sexual abuse.
The Underwear Rule has 5 important aspects.

1. Your body is your own

Children should be taught that their body belongs to them and no one can touch it without
their permission. Open and direct communication at an early age about sexuality and
“private body parts”, using the correct names for genitals and other parts of the body, will
help children understand what is not allowed. Children have the right to refuse a kiss or a
touch, even from a person they love. Children should be taught to say “No”, immediately
and firmly, to inappropriate physical contact, to get away from unsafe situations and to
tell a trusted adult. It is important to stress that they should persist until someone takes
the matter seriously.
In the book, the hand always asks Kiko for permission before touching. Kiko grants
permission. When the hand wants to touch inside the underwear, Kiko says “No!”. Parents
or carers could use this sequence to explain to children that they can say “No” at any
2. Good touch – bad touch
Children do not always recognise appropriate and inappropriate touching. Tell children it is
not okay if someone looks at or touches their private parts or asks them to look at or touch
someone else’s private parts. The Underwear Rule helps them to recognise an obvious,
easy-to-remember border: the underwear. It also helps adults to start a discussion with
children. If children are not sure if a person’s behaviour is acceptable, make sure they
know to ask a trusted adult for help.
In the book, Kiko refuses to be touched inside the underwear. Parents can explain
that some adults (such as carers, parents or doctors) may have to touch
children, but children should be encouraged to say “No” if a situation
makes them feel uncomfortable.
In the book, the hand encourages Kiko to speak out if somebody wants to touch Kiko in
any inappropriate manner. This sequence can be used to discuss the difference between
a good secret (such as a surprise party) and a bad secret (something that makes the child
feel sad and anxious). Parents should encourage children to share bad secrets with them.
4. Prevention and protection are the responsibility of an adult
When children are abused they feel shame, guilt and fear. Adults should avoid creating
taboos around sexuality, and make sure children know whom to turn to if they are worried,
anxious or sad. Children may feel that something is wrong. Adults should be attentive and
receptive to their feelings and behaviour. There may be many reasons why a child refuses
contact with another adult or with another child. This should be respected. Children should
always feel that they can talk to their parents about this issue.
The hand in the book is Kiko’s friend. Adults are there to help children in their daily lives.
Preventing sexual violence is first and foremost the adult’s responsibility and it is important
to avoid putting all the burden on children’s shoulders.
3. Good secrets – bad secrets
Secrecy is a main tactic of sexual abusers. That’s why it’s important to teach
the difference between good and bad secrets and to create a climate of
confidence. Every secret that makes them anxious, uncomfortable, fearful
or sad is not good and should not be kept; it should be told to a trustworthy
adult (parent, teacher, police officer, doctor).
5. Other helpful hints to accompany The Underwear Rule
Reporting and disclosure
Children need to be instructed about adults who can be part of their
safety network. They should be encouraged to select adults whom they
can trust, are available and ready to listen and help. Only one member
of the safety network should live with the child; the other should live
outside the immediate family circle. Children should know how to seek
help from such a trust network.
Known perpetrators
In most cases the perpetrator is someone known to the child. It is especially
difficult for young children to understand that someone who knows them
could abuse them. Keep in mind the grooming process that abusers use
to win the trust of children. Informing parents regularly about someone
who gives gifts, asks to keep secrets or tries to spend time alone with a
child must be a set rule in the house.
Unknown perpetrators
In some cases the perpetrator is a stranger. Teach your child simple rules
about contact with strangers: never get into a car with a stranger, never
accept gifts or invitations from a stranger. .
Children should know that there are professionals that can be particularly
helpful (teachers, social workers, ombudspersons, physicians, the school
psychologist, the police) and that there are help lines that children can
call to seek advice.
Why The Underwear Rule?
About one in five children falls victim to some form of sexual abuse and violence. It
happens to children of every gender, every age, every skin colour, every social class
and every religion. The perpetrator is often someone the child knows and trusts. The
perpetrator can also be a child.
You can help prevent this happening to your child.
Good communication with children is the key. It implies openness, determination,
straightforwardness and a friendly, non-intimidating atmosphere.
The Underwear Rule can help you with this.
A child is never too young to be taught The Underwear Rule because abuse can happen
at every age.
If you find it uncomfortable to talk about this subject with your child, please remember
that it is probably more difficult for you as an adult than it is for a child.
What to do if you suspect abuse?
When you suspect your child has been abused, it is very important
not to be angry with your child. Do not make your child feel as if they
have done something wrong.
Do not interrogate the child. You could ask what may have happened,
when and with whom, but do not ask why it happened.
Try not to be upset in front of your child. Children can easily feel guilty
and may hold back information.
Try not to jump to conclusions based on little or unclear information.
Reassure your child that you will do something about it, and contact
someone who could help, like a psychologist, child care specialist,
doctor, social worker or the police.
In some countries special helplines and centres responsible for
helping child victims of sexual violence have been set up. They can
also guide you and should be contacted when a child is a possible
victim of sexual violence.

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