Nav: Home

National Poll: Many parents delay talking to kids about inappropriate touching

March 16, 2020

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Experts recommend starting conversations about inappropriate touching during the preschool years, but less than half of parents of preschoolers in a national poll say they've begun that discussion.

Meanwhile, one in four parents of elementary school-age children say they have not yet begun talking about inappropriate touching, according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at the University of Michigan.

The report is based on responses from 1,106 parents who had at least one child age 2-9 years.

"This is a conversation parents should be having multiple times in age-appropriate ways," says Mott Poll co-director Sarah Clark.

Three in five parents agree that the preschool years is the right time to talk about inappropriate touching. But among parents of preschoolers who have not talked about it, 71% believe their child is too young.

Many parents also say they want more help navigating the conversation - but two in five say they haven't received any information on how to talk with their child about inappropriate touching. Just a quarter of parents have received such information from a health care provider.

"Many parents have not gotten any information about how to talk with children about inappropriate touching. Without practical tips or suggestions, parents may be at a loss for how to begin."

Clark notes that parents may start this process during the preschool years by teaching the anatomically correct names for body parts and explaining what parts are private.

Among parents of elementary school-age children who have not talked about inappropriate touching, the most common reason was just not getting around to it (39%). Another 18% said that discussions are unnecessary because inappropriate touching of children rarely happens.

"Parents shouldn't disregard the reality of child sexual abuse," Clark says. "Statistics show that up to 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18."

Other common reasons for not talking about inappropriate touching with school-age children include feeling the child is still too young (36%), not wanting to scare the child (21%), and not knowing how to bring it up (18%).

"It's clear that this is a challenging area for many parents. However, it's essential to help children understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching, and that they should tell mom or dad if any inappropriate touching occurs. Failure to do so leaves children unequipped to deal with one of the gravest dangers of childhood."

In addition to discussions, Clark says parents should think about family rules that can reinforce the concept of personal boundaries. For example, parents shouldn't force children to accept hugs, kisses or other physical contact from anybody, including family members and friends.

Sixty percent of parents said they'd like their child's school to teach students about the topic, and 76% want the school to provide information for parents.

"In the past, talking about appropriate vs inappropriate touching was probably something that parents would want to keep in the family," says Clark. "However, it's clear that parents want information and resources on how best to approach this sensitive topic. Schools and child health providers have a substantial role in helping families recognize and confront child sexual abuse."
-end-


Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan

Related Health Articles:

Mental health of health care workers in china in hospitals with patients with COVID-19
This survey study of almost 1,300 health care workers in China at 34 hospitals equipped with fever clinics or wards for patients with COVID-19 reports on their mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia and distress.
Health records pin broad set of health risks on genetic premutation
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marshfield Clinic have found that there may be a much broader health risk to carriers of the FMR1 premutation, with potentially dozens of clinical conditions that can be ascribed directly to carrying it.
Attitudes about health affect how older adults engage with negative health news
To get older adults to pay attention to important health information, preface it with the good news about their health.
Geographic and health system correlates of interprofessional oral health practice
In the current issue of Family Medicine and Community Health (Volume 6, Number 2, 2018, pp.
Bloomberg era's emphasis on 'health in all policies' improved New Yorkers' heart health
From 2002 to 2013, New York City implemented a series of policies prioritizing the public's health in areas beyond traditional healthcare policies and illustrated the potential to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Youth consider mobile health units a safe place for sexual health services
Mobile health units bring important medical services to communities across the country.
Toddler formulas and milks -- not recommended by health experts -- mislead with health claims
Misleading labeling on formulas and milks marketed as 'toddler drinks' may confuse parents about their healthfulness or necessity, finds a new study by researchers at the NYU College of Global Public Health and the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut.
Women's health has worsened while men's health has improved, trends since 1990 show
Swedish researchers have studied health trends among women and men aged 25-34 from 1990-2014.
Health insurance changes, access to care by patients' mental health status
A research letter published by JAMA Psychiatry examined access to care before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and after the ACA for patients grouped by mental health status using a scale to assess mental illness in epidemiologic studies.
Community health workers lead to better health, lower costs for Medicaid patients
As politicians struggle to solve the nation's healthcare problems, a new study finds a way to improve health and lower costs among Medicaid and uninsured patients.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.