The issue of child sexual abuse is not an easy subject to talk about. As parents, teachers and educators we try to protect children from all types of harm. We ‘baby proof’ our homes as children begin to explore, we ensure that they wear seat belts in cars, we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street, and we make sure they wear helmets while riding their bikes. As children grow up, we continue to teach them how to be safe in the world they live in.

However, when it comes to the issue of child sexual abuse, we often do not know what to do to protect our children. It is hard to imagine that such awful things could happen or that someone could possibly hurt children in this way. As a result, this topic is often avoided. Unfortunately, the reality is that child sexual abuse does occur and causes harm to children. As adults, we have a responsibility to learn about this issue so we can protect children from being sexually abused.

In order to help parents, teachers and educators learn more about this issue and better protect children from sexual abuse, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection has created Teatree Tells: A Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Kit. The kit is designed for children from 4-6 years of age. Lessons are age appropriate, fun and include an animated character that teaches them how to be safe. Topics include lessons on identifying a safe adult, identifying feelings, naming body parts, establishing personal boundaries, and okay and not okay touching.

Teaching safety skills in preschool and early years establishes a foundation for later learning. Research shows that offenders are less likely to target children who present a risk of telling.

More than half of all victims of sexual assault (61%) reported to police are children and youth under 18 years of age.

(Statistics Canada, 2005)

The Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect indicates that in a 5-year period (1998-2003), the number of investigations of suspected child abuse and neglect doubled. In substantiated cases of sexual abuse, 63% of the victims involved were girls and 37% were boys.