By knowing what's 'normal' at each particular stage you can be ready for what to expect, even though it might seem a little uncomfortable at times! If you're too disapproving or imply that sex shouldn't be spoken about then your child may be less likely to come to you with any questions or worries they might have. Of course, this won't be easy for everyone, especially if your child's behaviour seems shocking or morally wrong to you.
But try to keep calm. Your body language and tone can make a difference. The way you react can affect how comfortable your child will feel about talking to you about these things in the future. Sexualised behaviour which is significantly more advanced than you'd normally expect for a child of a particular age or which shows a lack of inhibition, could be a cause for concern. For example, a pre-school child who talks about sex acts or uses adult language or a 12 year old who masturbates in public.
Talk to your child about their behaviour. Read our advice on talking about difficult topics to help you get the conversation going. Encourage your child to make safe choices. What is consent?
How to prevent child sexual abuse: Know the myths and realities
It's important to talk to children and young people about consent. Sexual consent means being able to say yes and agreeing to do sexual things or have sex. Consent in relationships is about feeling in control and saying yes or doing things because you choose to, not because someone is pressuring you to.
The law The age of consent the legal age to have sex in the UK is 16 years old. Any sort of sexual contact without consent is illegal, regardless of the age of those involved. Children under the age of 13 cannot consent to any type of sexual activity. More about consent and children's legal rights.
Lots of young people contact Childline about their relationships. So we launched a campaign to help them work out what's right and wrong when it comes to sex and relationships. It's called ListenToYourSelfie and includes videos and advice for children and young people. It's normal for young people to be curious about sex and relationships. Watching porn can be a way to find answers to questions.
Preventing Child Sexual Abuse | Prevent Child Abuse America
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Enter search term and hit 'enter'. Call the NSPCC helpline If you're worried about a child, even if you're unsure, contact our professional counsellors for help, advice and support. Home Preventing abuse Keeping children safe Healthy sexual behaviour. Healthy sexual behaviour Your guide to keeping children safe, spotting warning signs and what to do if you're worried. One site, called Boys in the Real World, features nude and seminude prepubescent boys and teens and has received more than , "hits" visitors in a 3-month period. Another site has a startlingly straightforward mission statement that calls for acceptance of boy lovers who see no need to change a behavior they feel is natural.
What historically has been an isolated -- if not ostracized -- population is forming unprecedented numbers of support groups in cyberspace to advance the acceptance of a lifestyle that embraces child sexual exploitation. Leading experts are concerned that such online support groups validate antisocial and even criminal behaviors. According to psychotherapist Gary Hewitt, who counsels teens with sexual dysfunctions often related to abuse, "The support group sites give pedophiles a real sense of power, and the impetus to go out and molest someone.
While law enforcement is doing its best to meet the challenge posed by a technology that changes from day to day, the primary responsibility for protecting children rests with their parents. As John Perry Barlow, cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, points out, "The hard truth is that the burden [of protecting your children on the Internet] ultimately falls where it always has: on the parents. If you don't want your children fixating on filth, [you] better step up to the tough task of raising them to find it as distasteful as you do yourself" Elmer-DeWitt, The child sexual predator is aware that many parents do not alert their children to the perils of the Internet and generally know far less about computers than their children know.
The predator counts on the neglect and ignorance of parents when it comes to their children's access to the Internet. Overtures to children often take place while mom and dad are watching television in the next room and are oblivious to the Internet intruder who is stalking their child. Protective Measures Parents should keep the family computer in a central location where the child is not isolated, limit the time the child spends online, set guidelines and rules for computer use, and learn about Internet technology in order to better monitor their child's online activity.
Parents should stress that people encountered in chat rooms are strangers and that the same rules apply to cyberspace strangers as to those encountered in the real world. A recent pamphlet suggests the following rules National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, :. Never give out identifying information in a public message such as one posted to a chat room or bulletin board, and be sure you're dealing with someone that both you and your child know and trust before giving out such information via e-mail.
Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information.
The stages of normal sexual behaviour
Consider using a pseudonym or unlisting your child's name if your Internet service provider ISP allows it. Get to know the services available from the ISP that your child uses. Find out what types of information your ISP offers and whether there are ways for parents to block access to objectionable material. Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission, and then only in a public area with a parent present.
Never respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If you or your child receives a message that is harassing, sexual in nature, or threatening, forward a copy of the message to your ISP and ask for their assistance.
Research and resources
Parents also may want to have their child sign an Agreement To Abide by the Rules and post the agreement and the rules near the computer. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children offers the following as appropriate rules:. I will tell my parents right away if I come across any information that makes me feel uncomfortable.
I will never agree to get together with someone I "meet" online without first checking with my parents.
If my parents agree to the meeting, I will be sure that it is in a public place and bring my mother or father along. I will never send a person my picture or anything else without first checking with my parents.
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I will not respond to any messages that are mean or in any way make me feel uncomfortable. It is not my fault if I get a message like that. If I do, I will tell my parents right away so they can contact the online service. I will talk with my parents so that we can set up rules for going online. We will decide upon the time of day that I can be online, the length of time I can be online, and appropriate areas for me to visit. I will not access other areas or break these rules without their permission.