How to talk to kids about sexual abuse

November 15, 2011 7:03:10 AM PST
Since the sex abuse scandal at Penn State broke Michael Stinson, the director of preventative services at the Joseph J. Peters Institute, has been offering his expertise to several media outlets.

He says now is the time for parents to talk to their kids about the sex scandal.

It's estimated only 12 percent of child sex abuse is reported, but opening the door for communication can help victims come forward, and can also help prevent abuse in the first place.

"If you don't talk to your kids about the situation, they are going to go somewhere else and get that information," Stinson said. "So, do you want them to have the right information or whatever gets filled in from friends and on the street?"

Plus, he says, talking about issues such as abuse can also help prevent problems in the future.

"Because you are talking about an issue, it's out on the table. Find out what people know and maybe fill in the blanks where kids don't have that kind of information," Stinson said.

When dealing with a child who has already been abused, asking questions can help them open up.

"When you ask, that is giving them permission to tell without being punished," Stinson said.

Stinson also gave the signs of abuse parents can look for:

-If a child changes or shifts their behavior
-If they seem fearful of a certain person or certain events
-if they shut down emotionally or physically
-if they behave in an "adult" sexual manner

For more information and resources from The Joseph J Peters Institute, follow this link to their website.

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