The Conversation Parents Need to Have With Kids After Sandusky Scandal

football fieldI don't know about you, but I've been reading about the Penn State sexual abuse scandal with one hand covering my eyes. As a mother of a little boy it's almost too much to take in. It's also forcing me to ask myself some uncomfortable questions. What if something like that happened to my son? Would he tell me? Would I recognize any signs?

We haven't really brought the topic up yet with our son. He's almost at the age of Sandusky's youngest victims. And fortunately he's led a sheltered enough life that he is blissfully ignorant about the birds and the bees, though he knows there are parts of the body that are "private." Still, the Sandusky story is making me wonder if it might be time to start talking about sexual abuse-- and how I should get started.

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I'm not excited about telling my son there are adults out there who think it's a good idea to violate children. I'd rather he hear it from me, but it's so depressing that he ever has to learn how deeply imperfect the world is!

Many of Sandusky's victims were foster children and couldn't easily talk with their parents about what happened. But here's a mom whose son was abused by Sandusky but who was able to eventually talk about what happened. She was wise to go on alert when he first said something suspicious.
She first suspected something was up when her son asked her to help him look up "wierdos" on the Internet -- and followed by mentioning Sandusky as a wierdo. Can you imagine the way this mom's heart must have sunk? There is a special place in hell for men like Jerry Sandusky. But there's a special place in heaven for moms who are brave enough to face their worst fears, listen to their kids, and do what they need to do to protect their children.

I think listening carefully to what your kids say is the first step in recognizing signs that something is happening. If you're really in tune with your child you'll just... know. Right? That's what I hope. And if you already have a solid relationship, and they feel safe with you, they will open up to you. That's probably one of the most important things I can do -- keep nurturing my relationship with my son so he can talk with me about anything.

Still, we could definitely use some support in starting the conversation. So I'm looking for books that might be helpful. One of the best seems to be My Body Belongs to Me, by Jill Starishevsky. And I just found this website, Parenting Safe Children. I'm sure my pediatrician has some good suggestions, too. Now is the time for me to start tapping those resources.

Have you talked with your children about protecting themselves from sexual abuse?
 

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