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Teaching your child about appropriate touch - How to role play with your child

June 12, 1997

Teaching your child about appropriate touch

How to role play with your child

By KAREN MASTERSON

Staff Writer

Parents have every reason to be concerned when entrusting their children to baby sitters, neighbors, other family members and adolescent children in the neighborhood, according to national studies and local social workers.

U.S. Justice Department statistics from 1994 indicate that in child sexual abuse cases, children know their abusers 85 percent of the time. Justice Department figures also indicate that men are sexual abusers in 94 percent of nationally reported cases, 75 percent of whom are married and 96 percent of whom are heterosexual, even though they may be sexually assaulting boys.

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Social workers are using this information to design more effective prevention programs.

Kevin Harney, a former school teacher at Waynesboro Middle School and current child abuse counselor, said just as everybody puts new batteries in their smoke detectors after reading about a fire, parents pay more attention to child safety after publicized abuse cases.

But parents need to pay attention regularly, Harney said. They need to listen to children, watch their behavior and get involved, he said.

Harney and others encourage parents to do role playing with children, allowing them to act out potentially dangerous scenarios. In this way, kids learn to identify problems in safe role-playing settings.

The following are suggested scenarios for parents to create and act out with their children:*

- A man who's visiting keeps coming into the bathroom, looking at you while you're taking a bath. What do you do?

- You are playing at the park when someone walks up to you and says, "My puppy is lost, will you help me find him?" What do you do?

- A cousin who often visits hugs you and touches your private parts. What do you do?

- You win a game at the carnival and get to choose a prize. A man says you must come around back to get it. What do you tell him?

- An uncle whom you like always wants to wrestle, and in the process touches your private parts. What do you do?

- You're in the front yard running through the sprinkler when a man tells you to take off your bathing suit because it's cooler that way. What do you do?

- You are playing in the front yard when someone tells you they are going to the park where all your friends will be. What do you do?

- You are in the swimming pool and someone in the pool comes over and touches your private parts. What do you do?

* from Red Flag Green Flag Resources

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