Body Safety Hints for Tweens and Teenagers

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You are growing up and your body is changing, but keeping yourself safe from harm is still the same as when you were younger. Remember YOUR body is YOUR body and no one has the right to touch it if you don’t want them to.

1. Don't allow a person to touch any part of your body or come inside your body boundary if it makes you feel uncomfortable. Speak your mind and tell them to STOP. Make a scene if necessary. Or tell a trusted adult if they won’t listen to you. No one has the right to touch you anywhere or come very close to you if YOU don’t want them to.

2. No one should ask to see your private parts, show you their private parts, ask you to touch their private parts or show you pictures of private parts. If they do, you need to get away quickly and tell a trusted adult straightaway. Asking you to do these things is NOT okay.

3. Giving your ‘consent’ means you have happily said ‘Yes’ to doing something, for example, you may say ‘Yes’ to holding hands or kissing. If some one tries to convince you and/or puts pressure on you to do a sexual act that you DO NOT want to do, this is NOT okay. Even if you feel like you can’t say ‘No’ to that person or you say ‘Maybe’ or ‘I’m not sure’ this does NOT mean ‘Yes’. What that person is doing is called ‘coercion’ and you need to tell a trusted adult straightaway. Remember you DO NOT have to do anything you don’t want to do. Your body is YOUR body!

4. If someone asks you to send them naked pictures of yourself, you do not have to do this. When you are under 18 it is actually against the law to send naked pictures to another person.

5. Do not disclose any personal information online or offline. This includes your address, school, phone number, etc. Make sure if you go out that a trusted adult knows where you are going.

6. When you are dating, both you and your partner need to be respectful of each other. Be wary of anyone who tries to control:

• what you do (they may read your texts or stalk you on social media or in life)

• what you say and/or

• where you go.

Violence (or the threat of violence) of any sort including intimidation, yelling and striking is NEVER okay. This is not respectful and this is NOT love.

7. When you are dating you ALWAYS have the right to change you mind. This may mean that you don’t want to date that person anymore. This may also include changing your mind and stopping a sexual activity that you may have agreed to in the past. Remember you have the right to change your mind at any time and this needs to be respected. When you say ‘No’ or ‘Stop’ the other person MUST stop.

8. Always trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or a person makes you feel unsafe, act straightaway. Leave the situation and go to someone you trust and who makes you feel safe.

9. Remember you are NEVER EVER to blame if someone is disrespectful, violent, doesn’t listen to your wishes and/or tries to coerce you into something you don't want to do. All blame lies with that person. Never worry about making a scene. Be loud if you need to be to stop their actions. Never feel shameful or guilty because of another person's actions.

10. It is okay to go on dates and to flirt and to have fun. This does NOT mean you have agreed to any sexual contact. Remember when you say ‘No’ or you don’t say anything at all, this DOES NOT mean ‘Yes’. And even if you do say ‘Yes’ you can withdraw that consent at any time and change your mind. The person who is with you must respect your change of mind and stop.

It is important that you have a loud and strong voice. Remember it is your body and what you say goes!

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Jay Sanders

Jayneen (Jay) Sanders is an experienced primary school teacher and a successful children's book author. She is also the mother of three teenage girls and has been a primary school councillor for over seven years. Her time spent in primary schools inspired her to ask: ‘What are we doing in schools to protect our children from sexual interference?’ When she realised very little was actually being done, she decided to write a book to help parents, carers and teachers to broach the subject of self-protection and to encourage children to speak up.