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August 28, 2014

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Raise children to know red flags involving sexual predators, therapist advises

It’s the kind of news that makes parents squirm with disgust and outrage and, because it ends up in the media, might force uncomfortable but necessary discussions with children: In recent weeks, multiple adults have been arrested on allegations of sexual impropriety involving minors.

In three of the cases, the authority figures are accused of having sexual relations with or sexually touching minors; the other involves a coach exposing himself near a school and masturbating in public in front of a former student.

How should parents broach this issue at home with their children, if to just discuss what they may have heard in the news or to talk to them on the larger issue of inappropriate physical contact by adults in their lives?

“Parents need to know what their kid can handle, but it is important that parents train them, starting at a young age, to know the difference between when a doctor touches their private parts versus if the neighbor or teacher does,” says Scott Underwood, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist who specializes in working with children and adolescents.

It can start by understanding your child's ability to handle anxiety. Underwood suggests telling overly anxious children what the red flags are. It can be harder to convey to children with low anxiety the importance of knowing the severity of the situation because they never think anything bad will happen to them, Underwood said.

This is why it is so important that parents teach boundaries to their children and how to recognize when an improper line is crossed.

Unlike young children, teenagers tend to think they know more about relationships than their parents. Underwood understands this, but reminds parents that it's still up to them to intervene and protect their children from any wrongdoing.

However, there are many times when parents will look back to their own memories of school and remember a mentor relationship that bettered their lives.

“Parents have a difficult time wanting to intervene because student-teacher relationships do not always end badly; however, if there is even the slightest feeling that the relationship is not completely professional, it is up to the parent to stop the relationship from continuing,” Underwood said.

When an incident happens, the victim may feel helpless because the offender manipulates the child into either thinking that no one will believe that this occurred or that he or she is in the wrong.

To counteract this and have the victim come forward immediately about the experience, Underwood says parents need to foster a strong sense of trust with their child.

“Telling children from a young age, ‘If something ever happens to you, you can tell me and I will protect you and believe you no matter what anyone else says’ or ‘You know you can always tell me anything,’ will help the child feel as if he or she has someone to turn to should a serious situation arise,” he said.

Once the child brings the situation to the parent’s attention, it is the parent’s responsibility to send the message that nothing the child did was wrong and that he or she is not to blame for what happened. Oftentimes, according to Underwood, children will carry a lot of guilt, which is why parents need to reinforce to the child that nothing they did was wrong.

If a child has been the victim of a pedophile, therapy might be warranted, Underwood said, though not always.

“All too often, I see parents forcing their children into therapy and, if nothing else, the therapist ends up making the situation into a bigger deal than the child originally took it to be,” he said.

Parents play a huge role in ensuring their child is in a safe environment, but when it comes to dealing with the emotional repercussions of sexual assault, healing needs to come from the individual, he said.

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  1. Parents need to listen to their kids. Various murder investigations reveal that friends of the parents killed their kids. The parents encouraged the friends to be close to their kids. Ditto for sexual abuse--the parents encouraged relationships / friendships to include their kids when the kids, in their own ways, said they were NOT COMFORTABLE.

  2. One way a parent can guide a child in personal safety, is to inform that child that NO ONE other than a medical caregiver in your presence, may intentionally and physically touch any area of their bodies that is covered by a bathing suit, for starters. Furthermore, give that child permission to excuse themselves(leave) in a situation that makes them feel UNcomfortable. Finally, they need to TELL you or another trusted adult outside that person's sphere of influence. Then make a decision about reporting the incident if YOU are legally responsible for that child.

    This is simple and easy enough to do.

    Blessings and Peace,
    Star

  3. "In three of the cases, the authority figures are accused....."

    Ruvo -- there's that dirty little word the lynch mob likes to ignores "ACCUSED." Too many forget anyone can accuse anyone of anything for any reason. Underwood also neglected to mention when a parent touches a young child's "private parts," like every parent must occasionally do for hygienic purposes. Not all kids potty train permanently by a certain age. The most truth I see here is when you quoted Underwood -- "All too often, I see parents forcing their children into therapy and, if nothing else, the therapist ends up making the situation into a bigger deal than the child originally took it to be..." That's to milk the child's case for state bucks, usually under the direction of the caseworker. Those therapists involved in the famous prosecutors-and-therapists-run-wild McMartin preschool case is a text book example.

    "Various murder investigations reveal that friends of the parents killed their kids."

    Roslenda -- all too often the parents themselves are the killers, especially mothers. The child abuse numbers I've seen show mothers are the #1 abusers of children, and fathers -- real fathers, not substitutes -- are the least likely to abuse their own children. Yet courts hand them over to mothers by default in custody disputes and dads are forced into being looked on as just more strangers with candy to run screaming from.

    "You liberals promote and support LGBTism, same sex marriage, and military homosexulism [sic]? What's the difference another pervert making?"

    BeSafer -- how paranoid you are. Personally I draw the line at dogma like yours for being any kind of standard to judge others

    "One way a parent can guide a child in personal safety, is to inform that child that NO ONE other than a medical caregiver in your presence, may intentionally and physically touch any area of their bodies that is covered by a bathing suit..."

    star -- see my exception above about parents

    "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are 'I'm from your government and I'm here to help.'" -- the late President Ronald Reagan

  4. KillerB: On the mother thing, I suspect a serious correlation of mothers who use their kids for income--social welfare benefits and such. Too many mothers unable to support themselves having kids for the fathers and the rest of us to support so the moms can be taken care of in the process. This means poor living conditions, financially, emotionally, every/other/ly for the kids. psst: Star, we're talking about the parents who don't listen to their kids--you know, where the kids are not secure enough to demand ANYTHING for themselves.

  5. "On the mother thing, I suspect a serious correlation of mothers who use their kids for income--social welfare benefits and such."

    Roslenda -- you hit that nail square on the head. Personally, my great leap forward with my children happened when I discovered they were worth listening to. Too bad divorce was the catalyst.

    "The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations." -- Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 535 (1925)

  6. So KillerB do you think those stuck in the Dem vs. Rep thing can get a handle on this: that conservatives are not trying to cut social programs because they are uncaring? The "beneficiaries" of welfare are seriously harmed when Mom or Dad looks at the kids as sources of income. If all the Custodial Parents had to earn their keep, there'd be fewer kids living in these circumstances. Some because the parents would find gainful employment and some because they'd never get on assistance. You have to have been there or seen it first hand to realize how bad social-welfare programs are BY THEIR NATURE. No government program can replace a caring parent, one who cares enough to take care of her kids. And, back to the story, kids and young adults who have limited self worth are frequently the targets of pedophiles and Drew Peterson types--the suspected wife killer who keeps "dating" young women of low income and limited self reliance. I note that even Dr. Phil has come around to "Hasn't her father made his daughter feel special, so special that she won't settle for slime...." paraphrased mucho. And we used to hear about being sure to not spoil the daughters--psychology has come around to recognizing that all kids need to be valued, paid attention to, and expected to participate in all aspects of their lives.

  7. "So KillerB....."

    Roslenda -- some tall order. No, I really don't care about the R & D thing. They're going to do what they're going to do as the power elite. All We the people have left is our votes, and far too many of the electorate act more like livestock than citizens. Social programs are a necessity to a point, but like so much else government does, in the end it's about their job security, not what's good or right for the people. In the meantime they making dealing with them so complex experts and other parasites must be hired -- go watch some lawmaking. All those experts are there making sure the laws are shaped to their benefit. I know this firsthand.

    Kids need actual parents, not therapists, not Dr. Phil telling them all what to do or not to do. And don't forget the actual definition of "pedophile" is simply one who loves children (like bibliophile is one who loves books, etc). That means parents, grandparents, etc. As others have posted here frequently, why are these kids alone with anyone to take advantage of?

    Overall government needs to get out of the family business unless a real crime has been committed, then treat it like any other crime.

    And if I had it to do over again, I'd spoil my kids rotten.

    "The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people." -- Noam Chomsky