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Teaching your child body autonomy and consent

The concept of body autonomy holds that each human being has the right to make decisions about their own body without interference from others. Many legislative frameworks and statements both here and abroad uphold this essential tenet of human rights. 

Children, for their part, should be able to make decisions about their bodies. All children need to learn and understand this crucial concept. A child who understands their body's control has a lower risk of experiencing sexual abuse, sexual assault, and later intimate partner violence.

Here are some tips for teaching your child the idea of body autonomy:

1. Teach them real terms of body parts, including private parts
Much like your nose or elbow, the private parts are a part of your body. To describe those parts, you don’t need to use codes. Teaching children realistically about their body parts and encouraging them to use them are more likely to speak up and resist if something unfavorable happens to their bodies or report abuse if it does.

Teach kids to always ask permission before touching someone else's body. Hugs and other forms of physical contact are not always welcome. Children should learn to ask permission before touching others in the same way that they should not give control of their own bodies.

2. It’s okay to say NO

Help kids differentiate between acceptable touches, those that make them feel happy and unacceptable touches, those that make them feel uncomfortable, scared, or confused.

A child should be given the authority to speak if they feel uncomfortable about anything happening to them.

3. It’s okay to tell the truth
Children are not to blame if anything occurs in their bodies that they do not like, and they will not face the consequences of speaking up even if someone else says they will. Parents need to know that believing a child's claims of harm is the right first step and that they should take protective measures.

4. Trusted Adults

Allow a child to identify at least 5 trusted adults from various settings, such as home, school, and community, so they have options if a trusted adult is unavailable. A child can talk to these trusted adults if they have a problem.

Every 4th week of March, the Philippines observes the Protection and Gender-Fair Treatment of the Girl Child Week, also known as “Girl-Child Week." With the theme, "Strong Girls, Strong World: Defending Girls' Rights and Well-being in the Face of Adversity," adolescent pregnancy will be the main topic of the 2023 Girl-Child Week event, which runs from March 25 to March 31, 2023.

The National Women's Month celebration for the entire month of March is supported by this week-long observance, which highlights the theme "WE for gender equality and inclusive society" - a call to promote an inclusive society where change supports everyone regardless of gender, class, status, or culture.

Afterall, body autonomy is about honoring individual freedom of choice and the variety of human experiences. (PIA-NCR)

About the Author

Gelaine Louise Gutierrez

Information Officer I

National Capital Region

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