Monday, April 18, 2011

Some Secrets Hurt - Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse Awareness Month

As hard as it is to say, there's really no way to make sure that your child will never be targeted by a predator.  It could be a trusted friend or neighbor.  It could be an aunt or uncle.  It could be a beloved grandparent.  Every predator has friends and relatives - they aren't just the loners who live high up on the hill.  And everyone knows someone whose life has been forever changed by a predator.

But how can we prevent this from happening, and what can we do if it does happen?  Right now, one in every four girls will be targeted, and one in every six boys.  Those are staggering statistics.  We can't lock our children away from the world, follow them everywhere they go, run background checks on all their friends ... as much as we would like to.  They need to live some kind of normal life, but unfortunately, that normal life will have to include safety precautions and discussions that parents might be reluctant to have.

Some Secrets Hurt by Linda Garner is a book that will help you know what to say to your child.  Written sensitively, it will tell your child what to watch out for, and what to do if they see it.  

“Maggie has a secret. Some secrets feel good inside, like a birthday surprise, or doing a good deed, or knowing something special. Maggie’s secret is not a happy secret, though. It doesn’t feel good inside. In fact, it hurts. Sometimes Maggie has a sick feeling in her stomach. Sometimes she feels sad or scared or angry. Sometimes she wants to run away and hide. Sometimes she cries. . . . Maggie doesn’t want to share her secret with anyone because it’s embarrassing and personal. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She thinks it is her fault. It’s not Maggie’s fault, but she doesn’t know that. She is afraid to tell because she doesn’t want to get in trouble. She thinks her Mom and Dad will be mad at her. She wonders if they will believe her . . .”

I think that we as parents sometimes shy away from discussing things like this because we don't want our children to be afraid.  Perhaps our children are very young and don't yet know that sex exists, and we don't want to give them information they're not ready for.  Maybe we're uncomfortable talking to our children about it.  Whatever our reasons for delay might be, we need to get over them and do it anyway. It is never too early and it is never inappropriate to prepare our children for something they more than likely will have to face at some point in their lives.  And even if they don't encounter it personally, they may be a line of defense for a friend who is going through it.

I strongly encourage you to visit Linda's website and click on the link to her television interview.  Hear what she has to say.  Get a copy of her book, which comes with a parents' guide to help you know what to say.  If you decide not to purchase the book, please talk to your children anyway.  Help them know that they are loved and valued, and that you will listen to anything they want to tell you.  Help them to know what to watch for and how to seek help.  Our children are so precious.  Let's give them the tools they need and the support system they need. 

You can download the parents' guide here, and also be sure to read Linda's compelling blog post, "Under the BandAid."


Patty Ann said...

Tristi, I bought this book a couple of years ago at a Time Out for Women and have used it with my children and sent copies to my grandchildren. It is very well written and very well done. I even made my teenagers read it. I used to work for Casa which is the Center against Sexual assualt, so I can totally bear witness to the truth of how big of a problem with really is. It crosses all lines, this includes economical, religious, nationality and race. It impacts everyone. I can guarantee that every single person knows someone this has happened to. You just might not be aware of it.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

this is so scary and sad. I don't let my kids stay over night at friends' houses--that increased the chances of sexual abuse. I teach them about it. I'm very open with them. I only hope that they could confide in me if they ever need to


Rachelle said...

This is a wonderful book. I just bought it and I'm planning to highlight it on my blog as well.

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