I learned this past weekend that a victim of child sexual assault has to tell at least 7 adults before he/she is believed. Why? Because people can’t process the message and don’t want to believe. A healthy brain isn’t wired to think in these terms especially in relation to a child. An adult will attempt to reinterpret what the child is saying in a way that makes it less damaging/threatening for them to process. The child very quickly sees that the adult just doesn’t get it and moves on until he/she encounters another adult they feel safe enough with to tell. This was both shocking and terrifying for me to learn. As adults, please don’t be the problem, be part of the solution. If a child tries to engage you in a conversation that you can tell they are both physically and emotionally struggling through, please stop and listen.
It seems that predators target kids with lower-self esteem the most and prey on those who lack strong identity and/or have a weaker social network. Most disturbing for me was to learn that these predators can actually walk into a chat room, play ground, mall, etc., and can target these kids instantly, almost like radar. We must protect.
Teach your kids to be aware of adult strangers that seem too interested in them too soon.
Dr. Michele Borba’s Reality Check is a great blog that provides tips, warning signs and workshops for parents and kids.