Good Touch, Bad Touch is a program that taught me how to identify when someone is in my personal space touching me in an appropriate or inappropriate way. Grooming is a technique used by predators to train children into believing that good touch is good touch, and bad touch is also good touch.
Once the relations between a predator and his or her prey have been established, and trust is gained, children have a hard time distinguishing between what good touch and bad touch is.
I remember the Good Touch, Bad Touch program so it has always made me feel like it was a successful program. As I have mentioned before, I did not learn about Stranger Danger until sometime within the last year when my focus on child sexual abuse ensued. However, as a child I remember the Good Touch, Bad Touch pamphlets, and was able to run across a few when I went back to a community center in an Arlington neighborhood about six months ago. I began reading it to see if it was still relevant.
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Children often receive diluted information as a way to shield them from what they are not ready for. I am very much supportive of censorship when it comes to a child. I do not think a child should have the remote control when they are young because you nor the child can control what they see, and images stay in your mind as you can not reverse what you have already been exposed to. However, there are some conversations, while diluted should be given a dose of potency that allow your message to be clearly communicated without traumatizing the child.
Of course you don’t want to tell a five-year old child graphic details or show graphic images about child sexual abuse however you do want them to understand that the safety concerns are more than what Good Touch, Bad Touch or Stranger Danger may provide.
How to talk to your children about Grooming
Have a courageous conversation with your child. Make mention of what grooming is and what it does. For example, you could tell them that Grooming is when someone is always nice to you to gain your trust and then the relationship changes, and they violate the relationship by touching your improperly. Share with your children what a perpetrator may say to them.
We know what they would say. Let them know that if someone is nice to you and you are comfortable, and then months later they become manipulative telling you that you should not tell on him or her, they are likely using the relationship to make improper advances.
They should not that a good relationship that turns bad, is not good. They should also know to trust their own inner voice when they feel uncomfortable. You know exactly what words will work for your children, but the important part is that you share the information. I don’t want to be specific about what to say to your child here because It would not necessarily apply to all ages groups. It is important however that you as a parent pray, and craft a message that your child would understand. It is not only a great way to communicate what grooming is, but a great way to give metaphors about what manipulation is, and does.
When a child is properly groomed, they trust the relationship and then are made to believe that the perpetrator has their best interest at heart. Confusion is a clear indicator that the child is being violated and you could tell the child to be careful of the feeling of confusion. I have never heard anyone teach this way, I am inspired to do so, and this is the way that I have always taught my child. If you think about it, what relationships are you okay with that draw or keep confusion? This is a clear opportunity for appropriate self-questioning.
This feeling of confusion arises when they believe that the person would not harm them (because the person says that they won’t ever harm them), often while improperly touching them. Another thing that a predator will do when they are grooming a child, is tell them how much trouble they would be in if the child were to tell on them. They make the child feel that they are in ‘this’ together. They will often say to the child that they would harm or injure the child if they were to tell (and this instills fear).
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I do not know that I would call Good Touch, Bad Touch or Stranger Danger obsolete programs, as I have been reading in the cyber world, however I will say that every house needs a fresh coat of paint every once in a while, and there is nothing wrong with creating a program from these that have gone before us, and adding what we have learned about grooming and child sexual abuse, molestation and rape over the years.
What we must do is the same process that we would to improve other areas of our lives. We collect information from the past, and address the needs of today. In this case, one of the main elements of the child sexual abuse talk with our children has been missing a specific talk about Grooming, which I believe should include a conversation about the emotion of confusion, and manipulation.
As you know, I am open to holding a parenting education workshop in your city, visiting your school to talk to educators, social workers, counselors, and parents to implement some new practices in communication and to discuss more about child sexual abuse prevention and awareness. I teach Ten Ways to Safeguard Your Child from Sexual Abuse, and our motto is Your CPR Training for CSA!
I am crafting a bill to require perpetrators to receive a child grooming charge (specifically), in addition to other child sexual abuse charges when they are caught.
Although we are in the infancy stages of the petition and advocacy for this bill to become law, we want to emphasize the necessity of identifying predators by addressing their methodologies like grooming and not waiting for the manifestation of sexual abuse alone.
Dr. Ressurrection Graves is a Child Sexual Abuse Conference Speaker, and Licensed Minister. She writes about child sexual abuse awareness, prevention and healing at:www.ressurrection.wordpress.com She is currently accepting both national and international speaking invitations on topics that include Spiritual and Child Sexual Abuse. Please join our petition: Make Child Sexual Abuse A Felony
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