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How Do I Talk to My Child About the Realities
Talking to your child about sexual abuse is an uncomfortable discussion. We want to empower them with tools, not make them fearful of strangers,"kinda-knows", and people they do know. First, it is essential to define a stranger as someone they do NOT know. Strangers can look like anyone. Kinda-knows are people your child has met a few times, but does not really know or interact with. Kinda-knows can be people at the grocery store, school personnel, coaches of other teams, etc. People the children know are just that - people they know.
We all teach our children about strangers, so now our challenge is to teach them that sometimes people they know (or kinda know) my want to hurt them. It is important to teach children about trusting their instincts when someone makes them feel uncomfortable or confused. We call this the "uh-oh" feeling. Children should be taught to trust that feeling and tell one of their identified trusted adults. Most children know instinctively when something doesn't feel right. This feeling arises when asked to do something sexual, or even when asked to keep a secret they may know is "bad". Continually identifying situations in which your child may have the "uh-oh" feeling increases the likelihood of their disclosing a hurtful or confusing situation.
Trust your instincts when you feel something inappropriate has happened with your child. Predators are masters at deception; deceiving the families and deceiving the children. Know the signs of predator behavior and predator grooming. Sometimes it may feel judgmental, but the harsh reality is that it is better to keep your children protected than to risk them being abused by someone because you feel "bad" about questioning their motives with your child. Predators more often are charming, friendly, helpful members of the community, blinding us with their "kindness".