From Dr. Jane's Notebook

Protecting Our Children

The prevalence of child abuse is an unfortunate discovery in our society. Although it has only recently come to the foreground of our media attention, thousands (if not millions) of adults are currently dealing with the effects of having been abused 20, 30, and 40 years ago. Child abuse happens in a number of different circumstances and no child is immune from its possibility. Our best defenses are prevention, early recognition and intervention. Here are a few thoughts on the matter.

At the end of the day, talk with your children about their experiences and really listen to them. Their day has probably been as complicated as yours. If they think you don't really want to listen, they may brush you off ("What did you do today in school?" "Nothing.") But try not to settle for this answer. Remember the ball of yarn as a communication tool and review their day hour by hour to get the conversation going.

I recently attended a seminar on treating victims of childhood sexual abuse and heard the following story: In a similar seminar, a man in his thirties stood up and proudly announced that he was the victim of childhood molestation at a picnic but had not suffered any ill effects. On further questioning, however, he described how his parents had handled it. When the boy broke free from the perpetrator, he immediately ran and told his parents. They assured him that it was not his fault. They called the police and had the perpetrator arrested. They sat up with him all that night, allowing him to express his feelings and deal with his fears.

Teaching and raising children are delicate tasks that require tremendous sensitivity. We can't protect them from everything, but we can buffer the damages when they are hurt. Every parent must be a "child advocate" and remember: If we are not "for our children", who will they turn to?

ęCopyright, 1994, 1995, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated October 17, 1998 by Gary M. Grandon, Ph.D.