05:16pm Thursday 27 February 2020

More parents must teach their kids to prevent sexual abuse

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 parents 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 cooperation and collaboration between agencies and across governments to prevent child maltreatment 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 recognised that they had received inadequate prevention education when they were young,” she said.

“They said they wanted their children to receive sexual abuse 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.

The seminar tomorrow (June 27) is hosted by QUT’s Children and Youth Research Centre and brings together researchers from government, academia and industry and includes Dr Daryl Higgins from the Australian Institute of Family Studies and Dr Katrina Lines from ACT for Kids.

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 Early Childhood – http://eprints.qut.edu.au/42400/ .

** High res photo of Dr Walsh available for media use.

Media contact: Niki Widdowson, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2999 or n.widdowson@qut.edu.au.

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