Most sexual abuse can be prevented when adults and kids have clear and appropriate personal boundaries. This article is from The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, a tremendous resource for protecting children from abuse, bullying, kidnapping, and other violence.
To have healthy relationships, you need to have good boundaries. To have good boundaries, you need to have an understanding about what is safe and what is not safe – both emotionally and physically – and to have learned skills to communicate with others about your boundaries.
Kidpower’s four boundary principles are:
1. We each belong to ourselves.
2. Some things are not a choice.
3. Problems should not be secrets.
4. Keep telling until you get the help you need.
Kidpower Safety Rules for Touch, Teasing, and Affection
In addition, we recommend the following Kidpower safety rules for all touch, teasing, and affection. These are often areas that can create problems in relationships. Here’s a summary of our basic Kidpower rules about touch:
Regardless of age, touch or games for play, teasing, and affection need to be:
- The choice of each person
- Allowed by the adults in charge
- Not a secret
In addition to touch, problems should not be secret. Presents or games should not have to be secret. Friendships, favors, and who kids spend special time with, also should never be a secret.
Remember that while touch for health and safety might not be a choice, it should never be a secret. Tell children: “If you have a safety problem, tell an adult you trust and keep telling until you get the help you need.”
Kidpower’s safety rules for Touch and Private Areas:
For children, the Kidpower safety rules about touching or showing/viewing private areas are:
“Your private areas are the parts of your body that can be covered by a bathing suit. For play or teasing, other people should not touch your private areas, nor should they ask you to touch their private areas, nor should they show you movies or pictures about people and their private areas. For health or safety, such as if you’re sick, your parents or doctor might need to touch your private areas, but it is never a secret.”
Knowing the rules is important, but people also need skills in communicating about boundaries. This is why our Kidpower teaching method emphasizes coaching our students to be successful in practicing the skills they need to keep themselves emotionally and physically safe.
Here’s a great resource for learning What to Say and How to Practice!
Our Safety Comics series for children, youth, and teens provide a fun tool
for teaching about boundaries and healthy relationships.