Some people like to believe that abuse of children is a problem restricted to the poor, or disadvantaged. No so. The sex abuse allegations involving a prep school upscale enough to include the son of a governor are a stark reminder that people who prey on kids can be anywhere.
Predators come in all shapes, sizes, neighborhoods and income levels. They can ingratiate themselves into the lives of children and families as friends, coaches, clergy, baby sitters or teachers. The most important step a parent can take is to have open and honest age-appropriate conversations with their children throughout their childhood and adolescence. Natural discussions that include all parts of the body are a key. Conversational lessons about nice relationships — the kind where everyone considers each others feelings –can start with toddlers and continue as children develop a wider circle of acquaintances. And here’s the step that most people skip — ensure that your child’s school and the other institutions in your community have take steps to prevent sexual abuse and have a well thought out policy on how to respond if allegations are made.
The best news to come out of this story from the NJ prep school is that the administration appears to be behaving responsibly. The alleged perpetrator was brought back from another state to face the NJ investigation and press reports quote his superiors as saying he is being kept under tight restrictions.
The title of this blog post mirrors the title of the last chapter in my book, The Sex Wise Parent. There’s a lot to learn about being a prepared family and community, and you can find it in my book.