Every family has their own way of handling information after something happens. Whether it is a family tragedy or a bully at school--it is important to determine how YOUR family will handle information not just after an event happens, but BEFORE an event happens. Sexual Abuse is a real danger in our society and it can be difficult to discuss in an age appropriate way. Many families are not sure where to start, what to say, what not to say, etc. Its never too early and its never too late. Even if you have teenage children this conversation needs to happen.
As a mother of two girls, I understand how hopeful parents are that our children will come to us with sensitive information, especially if their emotional or physical safety is involved. While doing research on how to educate my kids—I recently read about how some families have a “No Secrets Policy.” I love this concept. Here are three things I learned about developing a system on how my family can handle ourselves, information, and our bodies to avoid a sexual abuse issue.
As a parent, I am constantly monitoring where my children are, who they are with, how long will they be there. My oldest daughter is often annoyed with the over communication, but I cannot afford to take ANY chances with their innocence. Plan ahead. Talk a lot. Build a culture of trust in your home.
For more information on where these ideas originated from and to read an example of
“The Body Rules” please click on link below:
Julie Signorelli is a wife,
mother of 2, pastor,
and PATH blogger in Chesterton, IN.
We have all seen the old mobster movies where the crime family in charge tries to extort money from the poor local business owner. It makes you shake your head and be glad you live in a different era. But do you? With new technology comes new crimes. As adults, it is important to stay informed on trending crimes, especially when minors are the target. And now there is a new crime targeting our young people. Sextortion is a crime where perpetrators coerce young girls into sending photos of themselves naked and then they are traded, sold, or used on the internet.
You might say, “That would never happened to my daughter.” Yet these perpetrators prey on unsuspecting females and who they believe will be easy to compel to give them naked photos. The offenders play mind games and use a line like this to begin the coercion: “I have naked photos of you and I will show them to all your friends if you don't send me more pictures of yourself.” This kind of mind game makes the victim feel helpless and powerless to the perpetrator. There have been victims who have never taken nude photos of themselves, but they were so manipulated through the messages they then felt pressure to comply.
This crime moves quickly and quietly. In a recent CNN report FBI Assistant Director Joseph Campbell said "sextortion is a growing threat both domestically and internationally. The devastating impact of these crimes on the victims, their family and friends cannot be ignored." Parents have to be involved in the usage of your teen's cell phone, tablet, and laptop. Many parents fight the battle of privacy, but often the very privacy you are giving them as a reward could lead to their own demise. The privacy you are giving them could be the very thing that is endangering them. Get involved. You need to look at their pictures, messages, see their “friends” or “followers” online, talk to other parents, look at their photos, search history, deleted folder, etc. There are many apps, resources, and computer programs to help you monitor their activity and provide parameters to help your child have safety.
Most importantly: TALK. Talk about the new crimes that are trending among teens. Discuss your family's values about their body. Keep the lines of communication open so when they receive a text or social media message asking for nude photos make sure they come tell you right away-- and make sure there are not consequences for being open and honest. Many teens will not come forward because they are embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid. If they do come to you contact the authorities immediately and work together to help end this violating crime targeting our young women.
Source--FBI: Sextortion a growing threat as seen on CNN
Gossip can be perceived as just harmless talk-- something girls might do to pass time, bond, or “catch up. However, gossip can be extremely emotionally damaging to not only the person whom they are gossiping about but also damaging to the participants. Rumors move further and faster with the platform of social media so in this day and age it is extremely important to take gossip with your teens seriously.
Here are three ways to prevent or change a culture of gossip in your home:
Don't just vent. As parents and caregivers we might be quick to mouth off whatever frustrations we have throughout the day. We might feel comfortable because we are “among family” or “close friends,” but venting out our frustrations when there are younger children or teens present could create a culture where talking about anything and everything is okay-- even if it's hurtful. Think about what you are going to say BEFORE you say it. Can your frustration wait to be heard? Is it something your kids can benefit from hearing or is it damaging? You can create an environment where you can discuss things in a respectful manner to everyone involved, but it will take thinking before you speak.
THINK. THINK. THINK. Your mother has probably said this to you a MILLION times. “Think before you speak.” This is crucial to help prevent or solve an issue of Gossip in your family. It starts with YOU. You have to model the behavior and THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK. Be intentional with your words. Don't say things like: “What was she thinking?” “Who would do something like that?” There is a way to discuss matters, even if you disagree, and continue to honor all parties involved.
Talk about talking about things. You have to own up to any gossip you have done. If you are trying to fix a problem of gossip in your home and you have been guilty of gossiping then you have to discuss it. It is okay to say, “As a family we might have participated in talking about people in a negative way, but we are changing how we discuss things. You can come to us with anything, but we don't have to spread rumors, lies, or negativity to vent about situations.” You can apologize to your children and talk about how you will discuss issues moving forward. Gossip affects so many more people than just the one talking. It's important to talk about the realities of the negativity with your children.
This can be difficult to change in your family, but NOT impossible. It will require you to be intentional and thoughtful about what you say moving forward. This is will show your children you have a level of maturity and integrity in your conversations. It will allow your family to incorporate this into your family values and will be a priceless lesson to pass on to your loved ones.
A Positive Approach to Teen Health (P.A.T.H) is a 501(c)3 organization that reaches seven counties throughout Northwest Indiana. Since 1993, A Positive Approach to Teen Health has been working to empower teens to make healthy choices regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and violence.