GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - How and when should you talk to your child about sexual abuse? That's a question raised by two separate cases of criminal sexual conduct allegedly perpetrated by authority figures in West Michigan.
With those two cases top of mind -- and police amidst an investigation to find if there are other victims -- 24 Hour News 8 compiled some practical advice for parents about how to talk to children about sexual abuse.
First -- a lot of parents want to know what age they should talk to their child about such a taboo subject.
New York City prosecuting attorney and author of My Body Belongs to Me , Jill Starishevsky, tells parents if your child is old enough to be out of your sight, you should have a pointed conversation about two main subjects: Their body, and secrets.
Starishevsky told ABC World News in 2010 one of the most important steps in talking to your child is to make sure he or she has a good understanding of which parts of his or her body are private.
She recommends using the anatomical names of the male and female genitalia rather than giving the organs nicknames. If it is covered by a bathing suit, then it is off limits, advised Starishevsky.
Starishevsky recommended in the ABC World News segment that parents should avoid keeping secrets of any kind in their family. Something as innocent as, "I'll get you an ice cream cone, but it will just be our secret" can teach the wrong lesson, she said.
Police and prosecutors often find child victims of sexual abuse do not tell anyone because their abuser told them to keep the act a secret, according to Starishevsky. She stressed the importance of honesty and recommended to parents they put particular emphasis on going to a parent, teacher, or other trusted adult if the child ever feels something happening to them is wrong.
Approximately 93 percent of sexual abuse crimes are committed by a person in the child's inner circle, the author added.
Thirty-three-year-old Ronald T. Smith II was grew up in Warren.
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