Holy crap. Wait, that’s not enough. HOLY. CRAP. For years we’ve been getting the same email home from the kids’ elementary school. This guy Victor Pacini is coming to the school to talk to the kiddos, blah blah blah, it’s a presentation about sexual abuse, yada yada yada. FYI, I included the blah blah blahs and yada yada yadas not because this stuff is unimportant, but because that’s basically what went through my head every time I skimmed the email each year.
Because this year, after Victor gave his presentation to the students at our school, guess what happened? One of the students came forward. I shit you not. Victor talked to the kids about sexual abuse, and then one of the students came forward privately to their parents and told them something that had happened to them. Something bad. Their parents had NO idea.
Look at your arm right now. If it’s anything like mine, your hairs are standing on end.
It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. Or one of them at least. Because we can’t lock our kids up and shelter them completely. Every day they’re with teachers and babysitters and nannies and friends and uncles and aunts and grandpas and coaches and priests and counselors etc etc etc. The people we trust.
And that’s why something can happen. Because we trust them to be alone with our most prized possession in the whole entire world. Seriously, I get tears in my eyes typing this.
So as soon as I heard that Victor’s presentation had made such a big difference in one kid’s life at OUR school, guess what I did? I reached out to Victor to say two things:
How can I help other parents?
Within 24 hours my cell phone was ringing and it was Victor calling me to talk. And let me just say that he is one AMAZING human being. Over 110 kids have come forward to report something after hearing him speak. ONE HUNDRED AND TEN!! And probably even wayyyyyy more because a lot of these things are kept confidential so I’m sure he doesn’t hear about all of them.
And do you know what a difference it makes when a kid comes forward and gets help instead of keeping all that scary stuff all bottled up inside? It is HUGE. Not to mention all the kids who may have stopped someone from touching them inappropriately after his presentation.
Anyways, you can read all about Victor on his website and his books and his podcast and even get him or one of his presenters to come to your school, but since I know moms barely have time to even shower or pee, I’m going to give you a few of the most important things he taught me when we spoke. So here goes, four things you absolutely need to know about protecting your kiddos when it comes to sexual abuse:
“No one touches your private parts unless it’s to keep you clean and healthy.”
You want to start talking to your kiddos about this stuff as early as kindergarten, maybe even earlier. “No one touches your private parts unless it’s to keep you clean and healthy.” Use those words. Because yes a doctor can touch you IF your parents are in the room. And yes a grandparent can touch you IF it’s to clean you in the tub. You DON’T want to scare them but you DO want to talk to them.
Safe secrets and unsafe secrets
Teach them that there are “safe secrets” and “unsafe secrets.” A safe secret is something like “I’m keeping Ella’s birthday party a secret so I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.” An unsafe secret is something like “My friend told me her music teacher is touching her.” Kids need to understand this difference.
Are your kids learning about sexual abuse in school? If your kid is in public school in any one of these states, it is a LAW that they have to:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming
It’s called Erin’s Law, only here’s the thing. Lots of schools have been slacking and not doing it even though they’re supposed to, so check to make sure your school is. And if you live in a state that’s not on this list, demand that your government get Erin’s Law passed where you are. It will literally save lives.
Talking about it is less scary than the alternative
Don’t be scared to talk about it. I know it can be super uncomfortable and you don’t want to scare your kiddo but you want them to know that A. it shouldn’t happen and B. they can ALWAYS come talk to you if it does. As Victor says, you are one of their trusted heroes.
We use car seats in case they get into an accident, and bike helmets in case they fall, and socket covers in case they get curious, and baby gates in case they are crawling, and like a million other things to protect our kiddos. Think of this as another one of those things you do just in case. Hopefully they’ll never need it. But it’ll help prevent them from becoming a victim, and help protect them in case they ever do.
I’m ending this with a big fat HUGE thank you to Victor Pacini for taking the time to chat with me and for dedicating his life to helping thousands of kids, maybe even yours.