Is it too early to talk to my kid about sexual assault?

At what age do you start talking your kids about sexual violence? Well, we're gonna talk about
that today on Tips on Teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist,
and I specialize in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations,
the Group Practice Teen Therapy Center and the non -profit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen
Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California. And every Wednesday at noon, I jump on
a Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions. Today is no different. And just wanna let
you know that today, you know, the topic is a serious topic. It can be triggering for some people.
I wanna let you know that I'm gonna address this with as much respect as I can, but also address
it directly. I think it deserves that directness. So here we go. Let's jump into the question.
I have a nine -year -old daughter, and I'm wondering when I should talk to her about sexual violence.
We were planning to wait until

she was about 12, but I'm thinking maybe we should talk to her about it sooner rather than later.
We've already told her the basics of sex. Way to go. But I'm just wondering when is a good time
to warn her about the bad things that can happen too. I don't want her to live in fear, but I want
her to be aware. Any advice? Yes. I think it's a wonderful question. I think violence in general
is something that we need to address. And sexual violence is part of that. And Grant, the way
you talk to a nine -year -old about this is gonna be different than you talk to a 15 -year -old about
this. I think it's important to educate our kids on their body integrity and their ownership
of their own body and how they have agency of their body, of who touches their body and all that
stuff. And I think it's important to let them know that no one's allowed to punch you, hit you,
kick you, tickle you, pinch you, touch you in any way that you don't like. And if that's happening,
I need you to come to me so I

can help. Especially your genitalia. And again, you can use words that are out of the medical
anatomy books. Penis, vagina, vulva, anus, those are totally appropriate words for you to
use. And again, the more comfortable you are and the more direct you are in using this terminology,
the better able they are to use this terminology and come to you because they can see you're comfortable.
Now, you may not be feeling comfortable, but you need to project that comfort so they can feel
safe with you. And you can talk to them about that no one's allowed to touch your penis or your
vulva or your anus without your consent and my consent. For example, if you had a rash and we had
to go to the pediatrician and you and I would both have to give consent to the pediatrician for
her to examine you and then determine what kind of medicine would be best for your rash. That
would be a way that you and I would be giving consent. But friends shouldn't be touching there,
other adults, teachers, coaches, other

family members, outside of me and your mom or me and your dad or whoever that is, we will do that.
And we will only touch you there with your consent as well. You have consent over your body. If
that's ever happening without that, you should let me know and then we can decide how to approach
it and how to support you. What you don't wanna do is, if someone touches it there, let me know
and I'll burn them to the ground. Because if you're all pitchfork and torches, which is understandable,
I totally get it. I would be too, I'd wanna feel that way too. But many times, kids can be, feel
like they need to defend their perpetrators. It's not logical, it's not rational, but it happens.
And that's why we don't wanna go too big with the emotions because that could scare your kids
into not telling you what's going on. Do you need to go in greater depths of what rape and sexual
assault is for a nine -year -old? Probably not, because it's probably not preparing them for
anything. Like you said, it's

probably just gonna make them more scared. But this conversation will evolve over time and
it's important to have this conversation. For example, about a year ago, my son, who was 11 at
the time, got in a magazine article and he came across an article about rape. He goes, daddy,
what's rape? And I'm like, any of you want, ah! And I'm like, oh my gosh, I can't have this conversation
right now. And they said, wait a minute, I do have to have this conversation right now. So I took
a deep breath and I said, well, I'll tell you, it's a really awful thing. It's a really horrible
thing to do to somebody. And it's when someone forcibly makes someone else have sex against
their will. And it's hurtful and it's painful and it's cruel and it's very much against the law.
If someone did this and they got caught, they would definitely go to jail. And it's just something
that you should be aware of. And he said, okay, thanks. And that was it. I didn't have to go into
the graphic details of it. He kind

of understood it. Is that the last time that we talked about it? No, we've touched about it here
and there. Will we talk about it more as he gets older? Yes, we will. So it really depends on the
age and maturity of your kid. You don't have to go into the depths of it, just like you wouldn't
need to go in the depths of the Holocaust with a seven -year -old. They will learn all that stuff
in time, but they don't need to know the depths of the horrors that people went through in that
time. But I think it's a great question. There is no one way to handle this. There's many ways
to handle this. Again, the most important thing is that you breathe and you are comfortable
talking about these things. And you prepare yourself to be comfortable to talk about these
things using real terminology so they can feel comfortable talking with you. If you're tense,
they're gonna feel that and they're gonna back away. If you're comfortable, then they will
feel more comfortable. That is our topic for today.

Thank you for your question. It was really thoughtful and we love it. And please keep your questions
coming. If you have more questions, you can always email us or talk to me here directly. Happy
to answer more questions. But if you like your question answered here on Tips on Teens, email
us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or you can direct message us right here on Facebook
or Instagram. We love your questions. I'll see you next Wednesday. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint
from Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. I'll see you next week. Bye bye, guys.

When should you talk to your kid about sexual assault?

It’s difficult but important to talk to kids about sexual assault. We recommend the conversation start early and continue over time. The way you discuss it will also evolve depending on the age and maturity of your kid. 

As far as what you should tell a young child? They don’t need to know the depths and the horrors of the topic all at once. You don’t have to talk to a nine year old about rape for example, but you can start the conversation in a way that’s age appropriate.

The important thing is that you’re at ease talking about it. If you’re comfortable, it’s more likely they’ll talk to you about it when they have questions. Check out this Tips on Teens video for some of example of how to strike the right tone.

“I have an 9 year old daughter and I’m wondering when I should talk to her about sexual violence. We were planning to wait until she was about 12, but I’m thinking maybe we should talk to her about it sooner rather than later. We’ve already told her the basics about sex, but I’m just wondering when is a good time to warn her about the bad things that can happen too. I don’t want her to live in fear, but I want her to be aware. Any advice?”

Want some advice on talking to your kids frankly about sex? Check out this video on having the “sex talk.”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here –

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.