Parenting: Lessons from the Sandusky trial

June 9, 2012

Here are several from parenting writer Bonnie Rochman on a Time Magazine blog:
1. Don't tell secrets: Rochman notes that even as innocent interplay between a parent and a child, telling secrets can lead to danger in other ways. Many times abusers will use the term to prevent a victimized child from going to a parent, a relative, a friend, or authorities. Rochman suggests "surprises" instead of "secrets" for parents.

2. Be skeptical of other adults: Especially ones who show added interest in children. Studies have shown most sexual abuse occurs between a child and an adult who is known (a relative, a neighbor, a coach, etc.). Abusers tend to slowly move in to gain the child's trust, and to ward off any suspicions.

3. Pay attention: Rochman says try to identify any changes in your child's behavior, even if they are very subtle. Also, Rochman says, take notice if your child takes a turn for the worse at school, or if they suddenly don't want to participate in a particular activity.

4. What is right/wrong: Let your child know what is a good touch and what is a bad touch, says Rochman. It may be an uncomfortable conversation, but certainly worthwhile if the situation would ever arise.

5. Teen years: Rochman says it is important to keep the conversation going as your children get older. Remember, some of the Sandusky victims were nearing their teen years when the abuse occurred.

6. Listen: Rochman notes that when one of the Sandusky victims came forward, no one believed him initially. When your child has something to say, make time to hear.

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