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A guide to speaking to your child about sexual abuse. Tatiana Matthews, MS, LPC, CRC
Objectives 1.How to prepare parents and caregivers to start a difficult conversation now! 1.How to teach parents and caregivers how to have that difficult conversation now! ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Who has experienced one of these scenarios while presenting?
The “Have You Been Listening?!” Attendee You present all the statistics regarding frequency and someone asks: “What if I ‘taint’ my child’s innocence by educating them?” ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
The “I Am Too Vigilant For This” Attendee You present all the statistics regarding risk with people you know and someone states: “Only people I know care for my children” ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
The “My Anxiety About My Child’s Anxiety is Debilitating” Attendee A parent gives a lengthy explanation about a child’s anxiety and how introducing this concept will give the child another thing to obsess about. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Why Do Adults Respond This Way? Scary, overwhelming topic Anxiety about doing it “wrong” Fear they will hurt their child’s development (too much too soon mentality) They are confusing sexual abuse prevention with sex education They grew up in a home where “bad” things were not openly discussed They are a survivor of abuse ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
How Do We Care for the Caregiver? We have to nurture the adults whose lives we touch so that they have the courage to do what is necessary to protect children. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Acknowledge the Fear, But Help Them Do It Anyway Remind adults why they must do it anyway; go back to the statistics. It is a scary topic. What else have they considered scary as part of caretaking that they had to do anyway? How did they overcome the anxiety to achieve it for the good of the child? ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Give Adults a Specific Script Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!” The Swimsuit Lesson (Jon Holsten) Any book that you have read and would recommend. An adult who still does not feel they could have this conversation can always go to a professional to help them with it. GCCA has a list of recommended providers grouped by county. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Assist Adults in Role Playing 1.Give adults the words to start the conversation: – What are our private parts? – Who is allowed to see your private parts? – Sometimes people who should not see your private parts may ask to see them or ask you to see theirs. – What would you do? – What would you say? (Yelling “No!”) – How would you say it? – Who would you tell? 2.Offer many opportunities to role play “what would you do” scenarios: – Give examples such as hugs that last too long, requests to touch or see from older people or other kids, sleep overs, requests to be alone, said they would hurt you or you will be in trouble, will give you something good etc… ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
The “Scary” Questions Kids May Ask Why do people do this? What if they broke in my house? What if no adults were around? That would not happen to me if I gave them the kung-fu karate chop…right? That only happens to babies…right? What if I wanted to show my private parts for candy? How would they hurt my family if I told? ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Encourage Caregivers to Create a Culture of Empowerment and Respect. You have a right to protect yourself, to say “NO!”, and to privacy. (For example: No bathing suit changes at the pool in front of everyone, baths with siblings for parent convenience or diaper changes without discretion.) You don’t have to hug and kiss someone you don’t want to. You don’t have to do something that makes you uncomfortable no matter what! (Regardless of someone’s age or what they say they are going to do if you won’t.) ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Encourage Adults to Use Anatomically Correct Names for Private Parts. Teach them the importance of using anatomically correct body parts. Explain the difference between using anatomically correct parts and providing a full sex education session. Learn to explain things with the least amount of words. Answer the questions asked. That’s it. If another question is asked, then answer that and so on. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
The “Bubble” is Not Good for the Child! Remind parents that self-esteem and executive functioning do not develop from letting our children live in a bubble. Teaching children how to problem solve is where self-esteem and executive functioning comes from. It literally changes brain development in a positive way when it is coupled with healthy support. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Parents and Caregivers Don’t Have to Have All the Answers. Give adults permission to tell their child, “I don’t know the answer to your question. I am going to find the answer and I’ll get back to you.” Kids will respect an adult more who can be vulnerable and seek help when needed. What great role modeling! ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
Teach adults about the power of addressing their own history of abuse Teach adults about the long term impact on the human brain and cognitive beliefs. Teach adults how their unaddressed abuse can impact all areas of their life, parenting included. Encourage adults to work towards engaging in some sort of recovery work either through therapy, support group or a spiritual component. One or all would be a good start. ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
How to Get the Most Out of a Prevention Conversation Keep it simple Role Play Allow your child to be free to shout “NO!” as loud as he/she can! Be engaging. Empower your children to set their boundaries and you will take care of the rest. You have their back. You will always be there to talk and they will never be in trouble if they need to talk with you. Repetition is key Revisit the topic often ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”
The Best Prevention is Education and Open Communication! ©2012 Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!” Start the Conversation Now!
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