Blog article by Kimberly, THANKS Kimberly!
Last week, I attended a workshop titled, “The TALK: Talking to Adults, Listening to Kids – Realistic Strategies for Promoting the Sexual Safety of Young Children.” Sponsored by a parenting group in a nearby town, the speaker, Nora Shine, PhD, was a psychologist, experienced in dealing with child survivors of abuse and trauma.
It was a challenging session to attend. Challenging in the sense that the subject matter—the sexual abuse of children—is a devastating—and terrifying—problem. Increasingly, in the media, we hear about cases of abuse—from the Sandusky scandal at Penn State to the Catholic priests who abused children for decades—and Dr. Shine shared the grim news that many more cases go unreported. She explained that one in five children under the age of 20 experiences sexual abuse—and that number is considered low. In a startling 94% of cases, the abuser is not a stranger, but someone known to the child and/or his/her family. The average age of a child when abuse takes place is seven years.
Dr. Shine’s talk included a number of strategies parents can deploy to protect against abuse—and that’s why I attended. She has given this talk in numerous settings to help parents and community leaders be informed, vigilant, and proactive in ensuring kids are safe.
Dr. Shine spoke about the precautions we take every day as parents, such as the use of car seats, to protect kids. Car seats, she noted, can be a pain. Think about how hard it is to get a squirming toddler buckled in or how snowsuits make snapping those car seat buckles difficult, even impossible. It would be so easy to not use that car seat, but we don’t because we know that a car seat is the safest way to transport a child. We know it’s what we have to do and what we should do to keep our kids safe. Taking precautions that may seem like more work in the short-term are ultimately, from Dr. Shine’s perspective, what lead to long-term safety.
- Green (go) – situations and people you instinctively know to be safe for your child.
- Yellow (proceed with caution) – situations and people that make you feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and/or troubled. These are the most critical in stopping or preventing sexual abuse. So many people ignore signs of inappropriate behavior, assuming that they read the situation incorrectly, when really deep down they’ve noticed something that is not right. If people did something here—spoke up or intervened in some way—abuse could be stopped.
- Red (stop) – situations of abuse.
Other precautions Dr. Shine spoke about included parenting strategies that focused on openness and honesty, including:
- Answer questions: Some people are uncomfortable talking about sex and the human body. Predators know that, and use it to their advantage. Parents therefore should give children facts about their bodies, sex, reproduction, and other topics in a clear and honest way, putting aside their own discomfort, so they feel comfortable asking questions and speaking up when something is not right.
- Model boundaries and respect: Establish family rules (e.g., everyone gets private time when they are in the bathroom, no one is naked in front of guests, etc.) and then be consistent executing those rules.
- Adopt “privates” rules: Dr. Shine is a big proponent of using the correct name for body parts, believing that euphemisms and nicknames retain some element of shame or discomfort. To that end, though, sometimes, using the general term of “privates” may help others feel more comfortable (this is especially helpful when out in public, visiting with friends and family, etc.). She recommended using clear rules about privates, such as: privates are private, no adult should show any kid their privates, and no one should ever take a picture of a child’s privates. These “privates rules” should emphasize that the child’s responsibility is to always tell mom or dad when someone violates the rules.
- Establish truth rules: Dr. Shine suggested that families create rules around the need for kids to tell their parents the truth—no matter what anyone else says. Emphasize that they will not get in trouble for sharing the truth or telling a secret to mom and dad (this is helpful as abusers often tell their victims not to tell anyone about the abuse, referring to it as their “secret”).
- Limit 1:1 time: One of the best ways to end abuse is to eliminate opportunities for someone to spend one-on-one alone time with a child. All interactions should be in a public place with others around, and, if that’s not possible, another adult should be nearby or plan to “pop in” unexpectedly.
- Walk with confidence: Dr. Shine wasn’t a fan of the “stranger danger” talk, seeing it as fear inducing and unrealistic (e.g., we tell our kids not to talk to strangers and then we chat with the person we’ve never met who’s in front of us in line in the grocery store). Rather, she encourages parents to teach children to walk with confidence, pay attention to what’s around them, follow their intuition, and be wary of tricky, overly familiar, or pushy people.
Since talking about these topics can be hard, Dr. Shine suggested getting a book to read together with your child, as a means to get the conversation started. Some of the ones she recommended included:
- “It’s Not the Stork” by Robie Harris (I’ve had friends suggest this book, too.)
- “How Babies are Made” by Steven Schepp and Andrew Andry
- “Those are My Private Parts” by Diane Hansen
For parents, she mentioned, “Protecting the Gift” by Gavin De Becker and “The Talk: What Your Kids Need to Hear From You About Sex” by Sharon Maxwell.
This post doesn’t begin to capture what I learned from this course—I had eight pages of notes! At times, I found the content overwhelming, but, after a week of reflecting upon Dr. Shine’s content, I have four key take aways:
- Talk to kids about their bodies, reproduction, and adult versus kid behavior. Answer their questions concisely, addressing just what they are asking. Don’t add information they are not yet ready to hear.
- Establish a family dynamic where kids know how important it is to tell parents what’s going on—both good and bad.
- Listen to your instincts and don’t feel afraid or ashamed to speak up when something or someone makes you uncomfortable—no matter what.
- Listen to your kids and pay attention to what they say and do. If they say they don’t want to do something or be with someone, ask why, instead of pushing them into it.
This talk brought an increased awareness to a dark and disturbing problem. I’m more aware now, with some ideas to implement, and I thank Dr. Shine for that. As she noted at the end of her talk, “Kids cannot protect themselves from predators. Adults must protect them.” By sharing what we know, we can make sure we’re working toward that goal.
CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION MONTH
Everyone can do small things every day that help children to have healthy, safe lives. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The calendar below suggests an activity you can do each day of the month to show a child how much you care. Every activity is not necessarily developmentally appropriate for every child. So, be creative!
Saturday 1 Compliment a child’s accomplishment.
Sunday 2 Read a book with a child. Those are MY Private Parts
Monday 3 Fly a kite together.
Tuesday 4 Involve a child in preparing a special meal.
Wednesday 5 Catch your child doing something good.
Thursday 6 Remind your child that your love is not dependent on schoolwork.
Friday 7 Leave a love note in your child’s lunch bag.
Saturday 8 Ask your child’s opinion on an issue that affects the family.
Sunday 9 Go to a playground or a park together.
Monday 10 Coordinate a scavenger hunt around your house.
Tuesday 11 Tell a child about something funny that happened to you when you were a child.
Wednesday 12 Take flowers home to your spouse with a note on why you value your marriage.
Thursday 13 Bake and decorate a cake or make cookies together.
Friday 14 Work on an art project together.
Saturday 15 Talk with a child about what to do in an emergency.
Sunday 16 Look for figures in the clouds.
Monday 17 Give a new responsibility—and a new privilege—to your child.
Tuesday 18 Practice crossing the street safely.
Wednesday 19 Visit neighbors together, particularly if they have children.
Thursday 20 Donate old clothes, toys, or household items to charity together.
Friday 21 Watch a video together.
Saturday 22 Help a child write a letter to his or her grandmother, favorite TV star, or the President.
Sunday 23 Have a picnic in the yard or the park.
Monday 24 Choose something to count (trucks, dogs). Take a walk and keep track of how many you see.
Tuesday 25 Plan an outing to a free outdoor concert or exhibit.
Wednesday 26 Give your child a hug.
Thursday 27 Plant a flower or some herbs together.
Friday 28 Go to a ball game together.
Saturday 29 Do a puzzle together.
Sunday 30 Tell your child that you love him or her.
My psychological mentor, Dr. Eugene Gendlin, first drew my attention by saying that change doesn’t happen unless it happens in the body. As a yoga teacher, I knew this was true. That’s when I began to study Focusing with him. Focusing, as you know, is a sort of inner yoga.
One of the physical ways of releasing trauma held in the body is described below by guest blogger Ramona Ng. Here is what she has to say about her approach to the body.
SomatoEmotional Release is a form of CranioSacral Therapy that encourages body/mind integration and can facilitate the release of physical manifestations of childhood trauma. These techniques were developed by Dr. John E. Upledger, D.O, O.M.M. and brilliantly described in his books written for lay people Your Inner Physician and You: CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release and CranioSacral Therapy: Touchstone for Natural Healing.
When trauma occurs, either from physical, sexual or emotional abuse, the abused will sometimes cope in the moment by suppressing the overwhelming experience of the incident, thereby retaining both the emotional and physical energy of the trauma in their body tissues.
Stored trauma can wreak havoc on the body and affect functionality, even if the abused person is not consciously aware of the energies locked in their body. It can manifest as chronic pain, decreased range of motion, fatigue, interrupted or blocked energy flow, sudden mood shifts or outbursts and myriad other dysfunctions, many of which appear to have no explanation.
Dr. Upledger points out in Your Inner Physician and You, “SomatoEmotional Release, when it is effective, changes people’s lives tremendously. It is as though it gives them a chance to see objectively what they are doing with their lives and how they can change for the better. It gives them recall of experiences, traumas, accidents and the like that they have been holding beneath the surface of their awareness for years. Once these suppressed experiences break through the surface, the problems can be dealt with and resolved. When the problem remains suppressed, it can cause trouble, but you don’t know what the cause of the trouble may be, nor do you know the reasons for the symptoms.”
By engaging in this gentle, light touch, hands on form of bodywork, people are able to process these memories and stored experiences at their own pace, in a safe space of neutrality and non-judgment in such a way that can allow the locked energies to dissipate, thereby releasing and correcting the physical dysfunction.
SomatoEmotional Release can also be an excellent adjunct to talk therapy, and in fact often enhances the work done there. Clients report feeling stronger, more grounded, more energetic, and better able to deal with their daily life and responsibilities.
To learn more about SomatoEmotional Release, please feel free to contact me:
Licensed Holistic Practitioner
Grandma’s Experiences Leave a Mark on Your Genes
Your ancestors’ lousy childhoods or excellent adventures might change your personality, bequeathing anxiety or resilience by altering the epigenetic expressions of genes in the brain.
Once nurture seemed clearly distinct from nature. Now it appears that our diets and lifestyles can change the expression of our genes. How? By influencing a network of chemical switches within our cells collectively known as the epigenome. This new understanding may lead us to potent new medical therapies. Epigenetic cancer therapy, for one, already seems to be yielding promising results.
Non-Touching Sexual Abuse
Non-touching is when someone shows a child movies, pictures or Internet sites with pornography – when they expose their private body parts to a child. Non-touching is also when someone asks a child to pose for a picture without their clothes on, or in a sexual way that makes a child feel uncomfortable, or when someone takes a child’s picture while they’re doing something sexual. The abuser could encourage the child to watch or listen to people who are engaging in sexual acts, or could want to watch the child undress or bathe. Sexual harassment is sexual abuse. By teasing a child or causing the child to have uncomfortable feelings about their body or certain clothes, by calling a child bad names. The child might be afraid to tattle, or they might want the abuser to think the harassment doesn’t matter. #childsexualabuse #sexabuse
My friend, Flora Jessop, has dedicated her life to helping children escape child sexual abuse, to break free from the FLDS, the polygamist cult exploiting GOD to sexually abuse children and control women. Her new show on TLC, Escaping the Prophet, finally exposes the horrific crimes taking place right now, right here in the US. To supposedly preserve the bloodline of the one who is considered closest to God, 12 year old children are being given to their own uncles and cousins to become their 3rd, 4th or even 7th wife where they are forced to have a baby every year. In Colorado City, AZ you’ll find run down cemeteries that are for babies only, have you ever heard of a Baby Cemetery? The inbreeding has lead to thousands of birth defects and stillbirths, there are no death certificates and very few gravestones. This is where the forgotten babies are laid to rest. The forgotten boys, to keep the population mostly female, are kicked out of town at age 13 or 14. After being a part of a family of 28+, which btw is supported by the us tax payers in the amount of up to $30,000 per month, they are literally dropped off at the edge of town and told never to return.
See Flora Jessop live on the Huffington Post where she tells of all this and more. At the end, she recommends Those are MY Private Parts. Flora loves my book because it specifcally mentions family members, “Not with my uncle, nephew, niece or dad…”
We can stop child sexual abuse.
#childsexualabuse #sexabuse #childsexualabuseprevention
Child Sexual Abuse – Signs to Look For
Signs in Offenders
- Makes you or children feel uncomfortable by lack of respect for boundaries
- Engages in excessive physical contact with children
- Spends more time with children than adults his/her own age
- Spends excessive time emailing and text messaging with children
- Is unusually aware of kid trends, terminology, computer games, and music
- Overly interested in the sexuality or developing body of pre-teens and teens
- Arranges to spend uninterrupted time with kids
- Is “Great with the kids!” or “Too good to be true!”
- Showers kids with gifts, treats, special outings
- Let’s kids break the rules or get away with inappropriate behavior
- Asks kids to keep secrets
Signs in Children
- Physical Signs
- Evidence of physical trauma to the genital or anal areas
- Complaints of pain during urination or bowel movements
- Exhibiting symptoms of genital or urinary tract infections or STDs such as offensive odor, redness, rashes or burning
- Self mutilation (puncturing with pins or cutting)
- Health issues associated with anxiety such as chronic stomach pain or headaches
- Emotional or behavior signs
- Aggressive behavior towards friends and family
- Withdrawal from friends, family or activities they previously enjoyed
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Fear of certain people, places or activities
- Excessive sadness or depression
- Decreased school performance
- Eating disorders, loss of appetite, gagging
- Sleep disturbances, nightmares, screaming, sweating
- Regressive behaviors, bed wetting, separation anxiety
- Numbing pain with drugs, alcohol or cutting
- Need to be perfect
- Sexual signs
- Increased questions about human sexuality
- Excessive masturbation
- Increased sexual play with friends, pets, toys
- Talking about or acting out specific adult sexual acts
- Increased choice of sexually revealing clothing
- Signs of promiscuity
1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys
will be sexually abused
before the age of 18
That’s 20% of our population!
20% of our children will be sexually abused
20% of our adults have been sexually abused
The Center for Disease Control estimates that 5-20% of the population will get the flu each season. Think of every person who told you that they had the flu this past year or that their spouse had the flu or maybe your own child said he or she had the flu.
Imagine if instead they said:
I was sexually abused by my Dad
My husband was raped by his priest
My teacher touches me down there
Now realize that those people are probably just a fraction of the people YOU know who have experienced child sexual abuse. Just because you don’t know who they are, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. There are survivors all around you – in your community, in your neighborhood, and possibly even in your own home. Will you be the one to start TAALKing?
Is Your Child Being Molested?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!, January 13, 2014
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
This review is from: Those are MY Private Parts (Paperback)
I love this book. My husband heard about it from a friend and decided to purchase it. It is a great tool to use to assist parents when talking to your little one about inappropriate touches. One of the things I really love about the book is the way it stresses that “those are my private parts.” This phrase is repeated over and over in the book like a refrain. Furthermore, it highlights the fact that inappropriate touches can come from anyone, including a parent. Additionally, the book encourages children to report bad touches to an adult. It is illustrated with cute “little kid” pictures like stick figures and the like. It reads almost like a poem and my children love it. It starts with:This is where the learning starts
About boys and girls and private parts.
The front is different; the back is the same.
And most important of all, there are no private parts games.Those Are MY Private Parts!Usually my husband and I read the lines, and my children will chant the refrain together……..actually they like to shout it! I’m sure our neighbors have probably heard them shouting “those are my private parts” on more than one occasion! LOL Every time we read this book we use to segue into a discussion with our children about inappropriate touching. I usually quiz them where I give examples of a touch in various scenarios and they have to tell us if it’s “okay” or not. I would highly recommend this book to any parent.