Private Body Parts

What children should know

Children should know which parts of the body are private parts. Children should be able to use correct anatomical terms when referring to private parts of the body: penis and testicles (for boys), vagina and vulva (for girls), nipples (for girls), bottom/anus and mouth (for boys and girls).

Why this is an important part of child sexual abuse prevention

Understanding that some parts of the body are private helps the child to grasp the concept of the body rules. Giving children the language to name their private parts helps the child understand that these are an important part of their body, just as an arm or a leg is an important part of their body. It helps give a sense of body ownership. Using correct anatomical terms leaves no room for ambiguity if your child wants to tell you or someone else (e.g. the police or a doctor) something about that body part.

Research has shown that teaching children the anatomical terms for their private body parts helps prevent sexual abuse. This is because children who use incorrect (slang) language to describe their body parts can be easily misunderstood when they try to tell someone about the abuse.  Removing the stigma associated with using the correct language helps to challenge secrecy surrounding abuse, and shows children that we are comfortable discussing issues that are ‘sexual’ by nature.

Ideas for having conversations on this concept

This section can be the most confronting for some parents. However this is the time that you can show your child that you are able to have a conversation with them about sensitive issues. If your child senses that you are uncomfortable it is okay to say “yeah this is a bit funny isn’t it, but we are going to keep talking about this because it is important to me that you understand that your body is your own and to use the correct language to describe your private parts”.