Children First: Talking to your kids about sexual abuse - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Talking to your kids about sexual abuse


We tell our kids not to talk to strangers, what to do if they're attacked and how to dial 911. What about when the danger is closer to home, perhaps even in your home?

This year, it's likely that more than 300 children will disclose sexual and physical abuse at the Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills. Forensic Interviewer Hollie Strand says that's only a fraction of the children who have been abused.  "We know that only 1 in 10 children will tell someone," Strand said.

There is a  friendly decorated room at the Advocacy Center where kids point out where they've been violated, and disclose some of the most egregious crimes. Most of them, about 90 percent, are committed by people the children love and trust.  "Many kids are afraid they're going to get in trouble when
the reality is they need help and the offender needs help," Strand said.

Strand says the dialogue that many parents have with their children about sexual abuse often sends the wrong message.  Instead of talking about good touch, bad touch, Strand says we should encourage openness. She says to make sure your child knows that he or she can tell you anything. You can play the "What If" game, where parents give their kids different scenarios and ask them how they'd deal with it.  "It's truly up to us as parents to have those kind of conversations that if anything happens with our kids that we've created an environment that says you can talk to me about everything," Strand said.
If your child does disclose abuse it's important to react to it correctly. Strand says to thank your child for sharing, and tell them that you're going to get some help to deal with it. Don't make any promises and don't question the child; leave that up to police.
There are often signs of sexual abuse.  Below are a few of them:
-The child may have trouble walking or sitting.
-Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
-Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
-Doesn't want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
-Has an STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
-Child runs away from home.
Monday May 12, the Pennington County Sheriff's Office is hosting another child sexual abuse prevention training session. It begins at 6 pm at North Middle School in Rapid City.  It is free and open to the public. 

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