It’s time to talk about sexual abuse
We asked children how they first learned about sexual abuse. All of them said they had heard about it through TV, newspapers, books, films and social media.
If you, as an adult, speak openly to children and teenagers about sexual abuse, you show them that it’s OK to talk about it. It makes it easier for children and teenagers to ask questions and speak out if they experience sexual abuse. The more children know about sexual abuse, the easier it will be for them to protect themselves and to avoid harming others.
What is sexual abuse?
Sexual abuse can be many different things. Here is how to talk to your child about it.
Advice from children about what you can teach younger children
Young children need information that they understand and can make use of. You should not scare them. But there are things that adults can teach young children:
- You decide over your own body!
No one is allowed to force anyone to do something. You can always say no if someone wants to hug, kiss or touch you.
- There are parts of the body that are private!
The willy, the twinkle, the bottom and the mouth are private parts. For older girls and women, breasts are also private parts. Special rules are applied to the body’s private parts.
- Some adults and children will try to trick you and do stupid things!
Most adults and children are nice, but not all. Both children and adults can try to trick you and do stupid things.
- There are good and bad secrets!
Secrets that make you happy are fine to keep! However, it’s good to speak out about secrets that make you feel sad, frightened or angry.
- I want you to speak out!
If a person does something silly or harmful to you, you must always tell someone!
If a child or an adult touches your private parts, you must always tell someone!
If anyone tells you that you aren’t allowed to speak out, they are wrong!
Advice from children and young people about what adults can say to older children about sexual abuse:
- Many children experience sexual abuse and some of them don’t dare to tell anyone
- You decide over your own body
- You can always say no if someone wants to hug, kiss or touch you
- No one but you has the right to decide what is OK for you
- Older people are not allowed to have sex with someone who is younger than 15 years
- Sex is something you have when both of you want it – it´s wrong and it’s also a crime to force someone to have sex
- You have the right to say no to sex even if you´ve had sex before with the person, or if you´re dating
- No one has the right to take or distribute nude or sexual pictures of you
- No one is allowed to pay you for sex with money, items or services. It’s a crime.
Children whose parents share this kind of information with them say that they appreciate it.
If a child speaks out about sexual abuse
Parents and adults often want children to tell them if they’ve experienced sexual abuse or something else that they find difficult. We’ve gathered advice from children and young people about what adults can do to gain a child’s trust. That makes it easier for children to tell you when they’ve experienced sexual abuse or something else that they find difficult.
- Give it time; children must be allowed to talk about things at their own pace
- Ask questions – but not too many
- Be calm
- Believe that your child is telling you the truth
For children, it usually feels good to tell someone about what they’ve experienced. By listening and taking them seriously, you’re already helping a lot. But you may need the help of others, and to report what has happened, in order for a child to feel safe again and to stop further abuse. There is help out there.
If you discover sexual abuse that is happening right now or think that a child is in danger: call 112.
If you want to report a crime to the police: call 114 14 or go to the police station.
If you suspect a child is being abused: contact Socialtjänsten.
If you need help to report abuse: ask someone who works with children for help or speak to an adult that you trust.
You can report sexual abuse against children abroad to the Swedish police.
Parents and other adults may need to talk to someone about their reactions, feelings and thoughts in relation to sexual abuse against children. Below, you can find links with more information and support for you as an adult. The information is in English.
If you, as an adult, speak openly to children and teenagers about sexual abuse, you show them that it’s OK to talk about it.