Talking to your child about sexual abuse: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children weighs in

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The recent allegations on former Hilton Northwood Elementary School Principal may have parents concerned about how to talk to children when it comes to sexual abuse.

The Rochester area has many local resources when it comes to abuse, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children being one of them. Executive Director for the Rochester location Ed Suk says the center plays a crucial role in education, intervention and recovery efforts for cases.

Suk says if you are a parent out there wondering if this is the opportunity to talk to your child about detecting abuse – now is an opportune time. Children may be seeing and hearing about this for the first time, walking past the TV or on social media. Suk says it’s a good opportunity to ask if they have any questions or experienced anything.

He says a good way to ease into it is focusing on safety in general: start with bike safety, fire safety, and that can help open the door to different topics of safety, including what’s inappropriate and what’s not when it comes to contact with adults.

Suk also mentioned the importance of figuring out who the “safe adults” are in a child’s life. These are the adults they can come to and talk to if something is making them uncomfortable or seems inappropriate.

Unfortunately, Suk says if an abuser is someone the child trusts and respects – it’s going to be harder for them to step forward to those safe adults.

“When someone has been sexually victimized – one of the first issues they deal with is trust, it’s typically a trusted adult or some they have seen in a trusted role, in this case principal, and it really rocks their sense of security. There is almost universally a form of secrecy that’s put into play by the offender to get child to not say anything about the victimization,” said Suk.

Suk says this is when a situation in the eyes of a child can be daunting – and that’s why clinical intervention is a crucial role in reporting it. The center is available to make some of those clinical referrals for a family when they need it. You can contact the center at (585) 242-0900 or visit their website here.

For more information on talking to children about abuse: click here.

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