Kiko and the Hand
About 1 in 5 children falls victim to violence including sexual abuse. This can be prevented by teaching children the Underwear Rule using the child-friendly Kiko and the Hand materials.
Kiko and the Hand teach the Underwear Rule, a simple guide to help parents explain to children where others should not try to touch them, how to react and where to seek help. It is simple: a child should not be touched by others on parts of the body usually covered by their underwear. And they should not touch others in those areas. It also helps children understand that their bodies belong to them, that there are good and bad secrets and good and bad touches. This material destined for children aged 3 to 7 will help parents and carers to explain to children that their bodies belong to them, that there are good and bad secrets and good and bad touches.
How to teach the Underwearrule
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 Underwearrule
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.
Our Underwearrule products
Kiko and the Hand helps children understand that their bodies belong to them, that there are good and bad secrets and good and bad touches.
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Guidelines for Parents
Guidelines for Parents with children having intellectual disabilities
Guidelines for parents with children having intellectual disabilities (abridged version)
Posters (Secret, Touch, Talk, Book)
Prints (Secret, Touch, Talk, Book)