Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parents who sexually abuse their children

Tuesday morning Metro announced the arrest of a couple on 30 counts of incestuous sexual assault. I am chosing not to identify the parents at all, because that might identify the victims. (Although you can find their names and mug shots on at least one local website as I write this; and you can be sure it will be on KVBC.com after it airs on one of our newscasts.)

Metro officers have told me many times that 72-80% of all sexual assaults are "acquaintance related." That means the victim knows, and often trusts, the pepetrator. Most often they are direct relations, like a brother and sister; in this case, it appears a mother and a step-father perpetrated various acts on multiple children. Metro's news release reads "...one of the couples children revealed they had been the victim of various forms of incestuous sexual assault for approximately the past 12 years."

There are cases where only one parent is accused. Sometimes the other parent is permissive; sometimes the other parent has no idea abuse is happening. And there are uncles, aunts, coaches, teachers, neighbors, and any other number of trusted adults who use their position of trust to abuse children. It becomes incumbent on parents to teach children that their bodies are their own. Parents need to teach children that they need to feel safe and comfortable. That it is okay to say no to an adult when they make a child feel uncomfortable. And that may be a difficult lesson to teach, since it is hard enough to get some children to listen to adults at all.

Metro's Crimes Against Youth & Family bureau has some resources and advice for parents.

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