S is for Secrets and Safety

Secrets. We all have them. I have less of them now that I am writing this blog, but I still have some.

Harris has been learning safety lessons in school. Yesterday he came home with a paper about who is allowed to touch the private areas of the body (“those covered by a swimsuit”) and a letter from his teacher encouraging parents to reinforce and review this important lesson.

Last week it seemed easier. Last week’s lesson was “Bring a buddy along.” I had no problem reviewing the buddy system with Harris.

Yesterday’s lesson was different. Because it dealt with really, really ugly stuff. And sadly, the reality is that there is more chance of my child being sexually abused by someone he knows than of him being carted away at the park by a stranger.

We tried to broach the subject with Harris in terms of secrets. We reviewed that his body belongs to him and that no one has a right to touch his private parts. We also reviewed with him that if anyone should ever touch him and ask him to keep it a secret, he should tell one of us or his teacher. Harris’ response was (I hope) like most typical 5 year-old boys. He looked up at us earnestly and said, “Yeah, I know. Can I have another cracker?” And that was it.

Secrets. Everyone has them. I hope less and less children ever keep secrets like sexual abuse from their parents. We can only protect our children so much. I only hope that they will trust us as parents and that we can continue to speak to each other through a dialogue of openness, love, trust, and compassion. Now, can I have another cracker?


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