Shouldn't we be teaching this, too?
I never really thought about talking to my kids about sexual abuse until I attended the “Protecting God’s Children” course at my church. It was shocking, disturbing, and completely eye-opening. It was a major wake up call for me.
The program included information on signs to watch for in your children (victims) and adults (predators) that should raise suspicion and initiate a conversation. I watched abusers talk about how they select their victims and manipulate them so they feel powerless and at fault. I listened to victims and their parents’ talk about their own experience with sex abuse.
One abuser was 13 the first time he assaulted a child (a 5 year-old neighbor who looked up to him) he wasn’t caught until he was well into his 30’s, married, and with children of his own. He looked like a normal upper-middle class guy not some creepy dude that would hang out at playgrounds. (His children’s’ friends were his victims.)
And I guess that’s my point. I talk to my kids about not talking to “strangers” all the time. How do you know to question a coach or teacher’s behavior? These are people parents and children trust.
I’m constantly telling my children to follow directions, listen to your teacher, coach, sitter, and behave at your friend’s house. Making them aware that not all adults are right, and that it’s okay to say NO to adults in situations without making them paranoid and afraid of their own shadow is a difficult balance to strike.
I don’t know if this information is being taught to parents or children in our school district. I haven’t seen any notes about it come home from school. But I wish it was. No, I don’t expect the school to handle everything, but teaching our children about sexual abuse certainly doesn’t get the same publicity as fire safety and not talking to strangers.
In the meantime I’ve done research online and found some guidelines on how to approach this with children. Here’s a link to one of the best websites I’ve found: http://www.darkness2light.org/
Have you talked to your kids about sexual abuse and what to do? And how did you handle it?
Laura Feit is the mother of two. She lives in Walworth County and works full time for Gazlo.com. Laura is a community blogger and her opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.