How to Talk to a Child When You Suspect They Have Been Molested
This is a tough one, to write to see or to live through. Before life beached me more or less in one place, I was more active in the field of missing/abused children, mostly working directly from a foundation in Pinole, California, with families with missing children. I was responsible for press information, and what experience? Well, I organized a craft show for money raising, and stuck around. We found out it was something I could do, and do well. But it was very difficult, not being trained. I read and read, later working (volunteer again) with a missing child magazine, but learned I worked better alone ... and began to write what I needed to, to get safety info out to help. This is not an easy thing to write, but it is an important project to do. If you feel a child in your family has been or could be in a situation that could lead them to be violated you have to ask questions. Take a deep breath. You can do this. Depending on the age of the child, you will be needing a good approach. With the situation I had, the child was 2 almost 3, and had already been hearing the good touching and not so good touching talks with her mother. The information I had given the mother dealt with letting the child know that there are parts of their body, that are not for everyone to be near, or touched, and if you ever felt funny, tell someone. It is never your fault, but you need to tell someone like mama, or daddy, If they were wearing a diaper, I had suggested an approach that had worked, and as it happened, the mom was not able to handle talking to the toddler, so I did. And, the child was comfortable with me. I had told her that it was perfectly fine to have someone they know change her diaper. It would be silly to leave a wet diaper on. She grinned and nodded her head as the mom was trying to potty train her. So, it's OK to take a diaper off when it is wet. But, then said, that "But, if some one take off the diaper when it was dry, and keep it off. That would be silly, not putting the diaper back on. The child once again nodded and was laughing. I had just finished changing her diaper. I asked if anyone had ever taken her diaper off when it was wet and then put it back on wet. She said noooooo;.... I asked if anyone ever took off her diaper when it was dry then left it off. She said yes. My heart sank. I then asked her if anyone ever did any touching her, in her dry diaper area, when that dry diaper was off, she said yes, then pointed and rested her hand. I said, "So, that was how" and she said no, and showed me, it was then clear Mom needed to call the police, as she had in fact indicated information she at her age shouldn't have. I ended the session with telling her that I was very glad we had had this talk, that mama and daddy needed to talk to her, she did nothing wrong, she wasn't in trouble at all. But, sometimes things happen and it's not their fault, and other people have to also talk to her, there would be her favorite doctor, maybe a police man, and maybe one more person who's only job was making sure she was safe and happy and very much loved and protected. I asked her if she was OK with all of this. She looked a bit perplexed, then nodded. I told her she could come and see me any time she wanted, I would tell her mama that, and she was quite happy about that. Hugs and kisses ensued, and she left happy and not aware of what was to happen next. Police Departments, Hospitals, get her/his own pediatrician if possible, and they will notify child protective services. They have a workable routine for this. Boy that sounds cold and callous, I know. But how else can these emergency personnel cope with what they have to see and do to help families, babies, in these situations. You do what you can to show support to the parents, or if you are the parents, show support to your child. There will be referral to family services for therapy. The child has done nothing wrong, and you have to leave it to the professionals to do their jobs. There are times when that isn't enough, but do your best for the child. keep note pad and pen near * big chair/couch to be able to talk to the child, snuggle if possible * if the child isn't yours, or doesn't feel comfortable being touched, let them sit where they want, you ask where they want you to sit, then do it. don't breach their boundaries...
Pat Moses-Caudel Somebody's Child Education/prevention material for parental/stranger abduction, runaway and throwaway issues. Books of fiction, 2 interactive plays and parent guides done in light touch with humor to not frighten a child, but inform and give things to do should this ever happen. Which it won't. But just in case it does.
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