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Friday, November 11, 2011

Protect Your Privates: Discussing "Good Touch and Bad Touch" with Kids

When our oldest son turned three-years-old, we began talking to him about "good touch and bad touch." I made up a song called, "Protect the Penis," in which I sing about what's appropriate touching and who can touch his private area. The jingle reinforces in our son's mind that only certain people can touch his penis, and if someone attempts to or succeeds in touching his privates in an inappropriate way, he should immediately yell, kick, then tell Mommy and Daddy as soon as possible. Along with the song, my husband and I also reenact scenarios about talking to strangers. As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure that our children are aware of what’s appropriate and not appropriate when it comes to their bodies and overall safety.

I've wanted to write about the topic of "good touch and bad touch" for quite sometime now, but couldn't find the right context to convey my message --- until last week when I heard about the Penn State University sex scandal. I received my graduate degree from Penn State in 2003 and had a wonderful experience at the institution; my coursework was rigorous and the faculty were both delightful and challenging.

The recent news was devastating as an alum, but unlike some, I am more concerned about the young men who suffered and continue to suffer through this ordeal than with the institution’s reputation. Reading the very specific and detailed-oriented examples of sexual abuse in the grand jury's indictment made me so nauseous that I couldn't finish the document. Being a mother of small young boys, my heart aches for the young men who suffered and continue to suffer through this ordeal.

I have absolutely no remorse or tolerance for child predators. Men and women who prey on young children are disturbing and disgusting.

Satan has a place for predators.

Adults have an obligation to speak up against child neglect and abuse. Turning the other cheek makes onlookers just as guilty as predators. "It is the not the responsibility of the child to keep themselves safe, it is an adult’s," states the Prevent Child Abuse of America organization.

Research shows that oftentimes victims know their predators---family members and intimate partners usually are predators in many cases. Don McPherson, a feminist and social justice educator states, "Pedophiles are not monstrous misfits," he says, "they are often pillars of the community." Child abuse is never the victim's fault, and I can only hope that more victims find strength and are able to tell a trusted person about abuse.

Organizations such as Childhelp work to educate and provide advocacy for victims of child abuse. The website goodtouchbadtouch.com highlights the most common signs or symptoms of child sexual abuse:

  • acting out sexual behavior
  • inappropriate interest or knowledge of sexual acts and language
  • excessive touching of genitals
  • sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or urinary infections
  • chronic stomach aches, vomiting
  • nightmares, bed-wetting
  • excessive aggression (particularly in boys)
  • running away, stealing, lying

Additional Signs that May Be Present In Older Children.

  • drug and alcohol use
  • delinquency
  • running away
  • depression
  • promiscuity
  • suicide attempts
  • eating disorders (anorexia/bulimia)

In the United States, approximately 1,900 women are sexually assaulted every day.

  • 73% of sexual assault survivors know their attackers
  • 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance
  • 28% are an intimate
  • 7% are a relative

If you know a child that may be in a dangerous situation, then please speak up against sexual abuse. Even if you're alone, take the stand against abuse and be a voice for a child who may not have the ability to gain support and safety. For more information, please visit http://www.goodtouchbadtouch.com

Grimmett-Family-242x300Sojourner Marable Grimmett is an Atlanta-based author who is recognized for writing about the joys and challenges of being a “stay-at-work” mom and connects with moms, both new and experienced, who have the responsibility of raising a family and maintaining a full-time job. Sojourner has been featured in FitPregnancy, iVillage, MacaroniKid.com, BlackCelebKids.com, MyAtlantaMoms.com, WhatToExpect.com, BlackandMarriedwithKids.com, Fox News, and CNN. She is married to her college sweetheart, Roland and they have two young sons, Roland Jay and Joshua. Visit her blog sojournermarablegrimmett.blogspot.com follow her on twitter and like her on Facebook. Also join her new campaign to support establishing lactation rooms in public places www.supporttablefortwo.org.

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