More parents must teach their kids to prevent sexual abuse

By Niki Widdowson
Dr. Kerryann Walsh

(Medical Xpress) -- Only 40 per cent of mothers reported talking with their children about what to do if someone tries to touch their private parts, a QUT nationwide survey of 200 mothers has found.

But they are doing more to help their children avoid sexual abuse than they themselves were taught as children - just 16.5 per cent of the mothers recalled their discussing sexual abuse prevention with them.

These findings are part of a study by Dr. Kerryann Walsh, a senior research fellow at Queensland University of Technology's School of Early Childhood, presented at a seminar on forging greater and between agencies and across governments to prevent this week.

Dr. Walsh said parents had become more proactive in trying to protect their children from sexual abuse, but there were areas of potential danger that few had covered.

"While 40 per cent had broached the subject with their children, only 31 per cent had discussed staying safe on the internet and 28 per cent had discussed with their children about how it was inappropriate for others to take photos of private parts," Dr. Walsh said.

"We found that in families with children of both genders, mothers had discussed a much broader range of topics.

"Mothers of only children were less likely to have discussed sexual abuse prevention with their children at all."

Dr. Walsh said these figures could reflect the fact that only 7 per cent of the mothers had received sexual abuse prevention education during their primary school years.

"Overwhelmingly, the mothers recognized that they had received inadequate prevention education when they were young," she said.

"They said they wanted their children to receive prevention education at school, but 'just the basics, not the nitty gritty', and that they wanted to collaborate with schools on deciding the content of that education.

Dr. Walsh's study has been published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies - http://eprints.qut.edu.au/49416/ ; and the Australasian Journal of - http://eprints.qut.edu.au/42400/ .

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