Dec 27, 2017

Equipping Parents to Talk with Their Children About Abuse

The young Millennial parents in your ministry are facing parenting challenges that their parents did not face.  Social media, smartphones, 24/7 news channels and non-stop streaming have created an avalanche of information that comes at families.  Today's kids are exposed to news and information that their parents didn't have to face at that age.

Picture this...because it's reality.  A mother is sitting in the living room with her 2th grade daughter.  Breaking news comes on screen and before mom can react, the daughter has heard about Harvey Weinstein being accused of sexual abuse.  The daughter asks mom what sexual abuse is.

Picture this...because it's reality.  A father is driving his 6-year-old son to school.  Suddenly, the radio announces that Matt Lauer has been fired amidst sexual abuse accusations.  The son asks his dad what the man did to the ladies.

Picture this...because it's reality.  A grandmother is watching her 8-year-old granddaughter at home while mom is out-of-town.  The granddaughter picks up grandmother's copy of Time magazine and starts flipping through it. She sees an article headline that says Roy Moore has been accused of abusing teenage girls years ago.  The granddaughter asks what that means?

Picture this...because it's reality.  A stepfather and his 4th grade stepson are on an iPad looking at family pictures on Facebook.  On the news-feed, a story pops up about a man who has been convicted of abusing a child.  The stepson asks what the man did.

This is the world the families in your church live in and you can help prepare them for it.  The avalanche of information has accelerated the conversation timeline for parents.  Many parents and grandparents don't know how to respond to these questions and are looking for help.  They are being forced to have conversations that they feel their children are not ready to have. 

Here's where you can partner with parents by providing them tips and guidance for having these conversations with their children.  Let's look at some basic tips you can share with them.

Teach your children that our bodies have private parts that no one should touch.  It is very disrespectful when someone tries to do this.  Parents can go in to more detail about what parts that means at their discretion.

What parents can say when their children ask about someone who is an abuser.  Here's an example.  Let's say they ask specifically about Harvey Weinstein.  What should you say?

"Harvey bullied women whom he was working with.  He showed his private parts to some of them without their permission.  For others, he touched their private parts without permission.  He used his work position and power to make them do things they didn't want to do.  This was very wrong and is against the law."

Teach parents how they can help protect their children from abuse. 
  • Be careful about putting their children in situations where abuse could happen such as sleepovers, riding alone in a car with an adult or teenager, behind closed doors, etc.
  • They can ask their children these questions and help them determine the answers.  It's important for parents to prepare their children to know how to handle abusive situations.
    • What should you do if someone tries to touch your private parts?
      • run to a place of safety
      • shout out "back off" or "don't put your hands on me"
      • bite, kick or claw the person who is trying to touch you
    • Should you tell us if someone tries to touch your private parts or says things that sound wrong to you?
      • Yes.  It can be difficult to speak up if the person who is trying to hurt you is bigger, stronger or older than  you.  But you can't be quiet.  Even if you are nervous, you should always come to us or whoever is in charge and tell what is happening. 
    • What should you do if you see or hear of someone else being abused?  
      • Stand up for the person.
      • Speak up for the person.  Tell us immediately.  If you are in a situation where you are away from us, then tell an adult you trust.  
      • You have the ability to make a difference.
It is also vital that parents teach their children not to abuse or bully others.  Teach children to never use their power, strength or position to hurt or take advantage of others.  When they see reports of abuse or see abusive behavior acted out on TV or in film, point it out.  Let your children know that it is wrong and not what God wants.  God has called them to help other people, not abuse them.

Parents see the headlines and hear the reports and it's scary for them.  They are looking for help to prevent their children from being abused.  God can use you to help equip them and prepare them to protect their children.

Parents should also never have to worry about their children being abused at church.  We must make our ministries a safe place for kids to be at all times.   

I'd like to help you keep kids safe and secure while they are at your church.  That's why I've created a live webinar that can give you the tools, resources and knowledge you need to protect kids from abuse at church.  It's happening on January 24th.
  
I will be bringing a session about Why Safety & Security Must Be a Priority in Your Church.  You'll learn why it's so important not only for protecting kids, but for reaching families and growing your church as well.

My friend, Angela Lawton, will be sharing a session about Predator Proofing Your Ministry.  She'll share the keys to keeping predators out of your ministry and keeping kids safe.

Tim Miller is another friend who will be sharing.  Tim is a former secret service agent who was responsible for guarding the President of the U.S.  He was also the senior dept. of Homeland Security rep to the FBI.  He now provides safety training for churches.  He will share vital information about Safeguarding and Securing Your Ministry.  You can get more info. below and register at this link.  

One of our top priorities in today's culture must be equipping parents to talk with their children about abuse and ensuring that kids are at safe at church.  Let's help build a wall of protection around children that the enemy cannot breach.

2 comments:

One thing that was not mentioned in the article that I would like help teaching children, is what to do if their abuser is someone in their family or worse, someone in their household.

Hi Tammy. Great question. I was aiming more for helping parents to know what to say in this article. But I think the same things the parents would say would apply as well if a child is being abused by someone they know. Which is what happens most of the time. As children's ministry leaders, we are mandatory reporters when there is suspected abuse happening, no matter who the perpetrator is.

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