Early Communication for Parents
Early Communication for Parents
Early Communication for Parents
Awesome. Wow. That really resonates with me. I have a 14-year-old daughter about to start high school and the spending time part, you know, she’s starting to get pretty independent. So she’s got a lot of things going on and you know, you brought up bake sale and I do most of the baking for her. I don’t attend the actual bake sale, but I bake for her. And we are just trying to get that communication down where she feels comfortable telling me what’s going on and her mom obviously, so that if there is something that’s happening, whether bullying or some kind of abuse from a, a friend or a boyfriend or whatever that she’s comfortable. Like you said, for us trying to raise a good human that understands that, you know, you don’t have to go through all this alone.
I think that’s, yeah, that’s a really important point. And the other thing is it’s important to have these conversations with your kids early. You know, I think as early as fifth grade, when they start getting education about their bodies and puberty and all of that stuff, you know, tier it as, you know, it needs to be age-specific, but as they grow older, you really need to have a conversation about healthy relationships and talking about what are boundaries for someone, you know, no one should touch your body. No one should get into your personal space without your permission. And what does it look like to have a healthy relationship with a teacher? You know, things like you shouldn’t be in the teacher’s car after school, without your parent’s permission or the teacher shouldn’t buy you presence. You shouldn’t be in a classroom with a teacher, you know, by yourself, closed doors, after school, any teacher who talks to you about their personal dating relationship or tells you, “Hey, I think you’re really mature and I wanna be your confidant. Let’s keep secrets.” These are all conversations that parents need to have with their children. Unfortunately, most of the schools aren’t teaching this we’re working here in San Diego to make sure that that is something that is generic, that is taught to old children. In the meantime, parents need to have those conversations with their kids, no texting with your teacher about personal stuff, inappropriate and telling kids grooming. Most kids don’t know what that word means. There’s a lot of teachers that I’ve deposed that don’t know what the word grooming means, but grooming is the process by which teachers, you know, or adults or coaches or whatever they wear down the barriers, the boundaries for kids. And they groom them into first. It’s maybe an accidental, you know, it’s asking something inappropriate, an accidental pat on the bud you know, this or that. And it’s a slippery slope because then one day my kids will always say, or, you know, my clients, “I don’t know how this happened.”
And next thing you know, they’re engaging in, you know, they’re not engaging. They’re being abused by someone they trusted. And that’s another thing kids need to understand is that the person that is going to potentially abuse them is gonna be someone they know someone they care about. And someone they thought would never hurt them. Being able to one, recognize it and have that little, you know, siren go off in your head and say, okay, now that we told you what the red flags are, the warning signs, I need you to feel comfortable to come and talk to me, mom and dad, aren’t gonna be mad at you. If you share this with me, or if this person told you they’re gonna kill me or hurt me. If you say anything, I want you to know I’m okay. I can take care of myself. You come tell me because I’m gonna protect you. Kids try to protect their parents. They think somehow, you know, they’re, they’re gonna save them, but their children, their children, and they need help. And as soon as something like that happens, I mean, you call the cops. You talk to the school, you call someone like me because predators are never one-hit wonders, never I’ve yet to find a predator that only had one victim, they abuse and abuse and abuse until they get caught. And the longer they don’t get caught, the more bold they get in their victimization.
The term “inappropriate relationship” is often used to describe what is legally and developmentally child sexual abuse and sexual assault. Consent laws vary per state and can be complex however, most state laws confirm minors cannot consent. Regardless of the law, research by medical experts has consistently found that the brain does not fully develop until the mid-twenties. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center:
“It doesn’t matter how smart teens are or how well they scored on the SAT or ACT. Good judgment isn’t something they can excel in, at least not yet. The rational part of a teen’s brain isn’t fully developed and won’t be until age 25 or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part. This is the part of the brain that responds to situations with good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens process information with the amygdala. This is the emotional part.”
What Techniques Do Offenders Use to Defend Their Misconduct?
Regardless of a minor’s brain development, the onus is always on the adult to do the right thing — especially when the adult works with minors and has a professional, ethical, and legal responsibility to refrain from misconduct. Offenders often use gaslighting and DARVO tactics to defend their misconduct. Gaslighting is manipulating the accuser to not trust their own judgment or reality and manipulating bystanders to question the accuser’s credibility. DARVO tactics are Deny And Reverse Victim with Offender, essentially turning the blame from the offender to the victim.
For example, a teacher may claim the student was the aggressor and pursued the teacher. Even if that was true, if a student flirts or makes advances towards a teacher, it is the teacher’s responsibility as an adult to immediately address the behavior as inappropriate conduct and report to administration. This ensures that it is noted, there are no misunderstandings, and nothing kept in secrecy.
Responsible, well-intentioned adults who work with kids understand the importance of boundaries and know how to provide support while maintaining a professional position. They are very careful not to blur the lines and if called out for questionable behavior or poor judgement, they listen and do not repeat the offense. Predators, on the other hand, will repeat the offense. They are very good at giving excuses or reasons as to why it is a misunderstanding. This should be a red flag.
What Is Grooming and How Is It Used by Predators?
To fully grasp the situation, it is important to understand how “grooming” is used by predators. I use the word predator versus offender because these are deliberate actions. Grooming is the process by which a predator gains a person’s trust, typically fulfilling a need, while pushing boundaries and testing the victim’s vulnerabilities. Simultaneously, the predator grooms all the adults and bystanders into believing the predator is trustworthy, helpful, and great with kids. Predators would not be successful if they could not get the adults that surround them to believe they would never harm kids and therefore come to their defense.
It is very common for predators to have been referred to as the “favorite” coach or teacher. They are described as “more like a friend” than a coach or teacher. The offender creates situations to be alone with the victim, like volunteering to give them a ride home or to practice. They volunteer to tutor kids before or after school or give kids private lessons for sports, music, or theater. They offer their phone number, email address, or send messages on social media under the guise of being a safe person to talk to. This is how they exploit children’s vulnerabilities.
These behaviors gain the trust of the victim and are used to make them feel special. Minors do not understand that they are being coerced and manipulated for the pleasure of the predator until later on in life when their brain develops, they mature, they come to learn what constitutes sexual abuse, or they have kids of their own. This is why it is imperative that the adults who work with children follow mandated reporter laws and report any questionable behavior. It is not their obligation to prove guilt or investigate the matter. It is the mandated reporter’s obligation to report the behavior to authorities who are specifically trained to investigate and let them determine guilt or innocence.
The Importance of Reporting Promptly
Predators are cunning and rarely ever caught in the act of sexually abusing a victim. This is why all red flags, boundary crossing, and inappropriate behavior should be reported and addressed immediately. These can be just the tip of the iceberg as to what is really happening to the victim.
In California, the statute of limitations (which sets a time limit for when a victim can file a lawsuit) for filing a civil case for child sexual abuse currently has given a temporary reprieve from the time limitation. Assembly Bill 218 opened a window for filing a claim for any abuse that occurred in the last 50 years. That window closes December 31, 2022; after that, the standard statute of limitations will apply.
If you or a loved one were affected by sexual abuse, please contact us at (619) 516-8166. We are here to answer any questions regarding something that happened to you or your loved one and inform you of what steps you can take.