On Saturday night we were at a party at the parent's of one of the little boys that the Boy plays with. He is cute and sweet and as normal as boy as seems possible. They have played together all summer and are fast friends. He is 4 years old.
There were a lot of grown-ups present that I hadn't met yet, and lots of babies, and it seemed like a great idea to let the three older kids watch cars by themselves in a bedroom with the door ajar so we could tell if they were getting into trouble.
Several minutes later screams ensued, from the Girl and this little boy's father went to investigate. What he found was the Girl laying on the bed with her skirt up, no underwear, which was entirely her and my fault, she forgot to put it on and I forgot to double check when we left the house, it was a very long dress. The boy was laying on top of her with his face on her bum. He was kissing her. She didn't like it.
The boy's dad sent him to another room, and came and told me what had happened. (Let me just stop to say how grateful I am that this man is honorable and didn't try and hide it.)
I talked to the girl and asked her what happened and how she was feeling and she told me she didn't want him to do it. I told her she did the exact right thing in yelling super loud so we would know what is going on and could protect her.
After things settled down and we sorted out, I mentioned to the boy's parents that they might need to be guarding him more closely since when a child does this sort of thing it's because it was done to him before. They told me that they had just discovered that he had at least witnessed and perhaps been victim to something done by an uncle, which is rending my heart to think about.
Anyway, three things happened that were wrong in this scenario.
1.) The Girl should have had panties on, her bottom should be covered in public, that's simple.
2.) A child who has been sexually abused should not be left alone with other children smaller than him or that he is stronger than. It is a sad but true fact that children who are abused often become abusers. I doubt that this boy's parents knew that and I'm sure they were completely surprised. I only know this because I've been talking to people about foster care and adoption and it's pretty much a rule that a child from an abusive background should not be adopted or fostered into a family with children younger than him/her for that reason.
I understand wanting to keep this kind of thing private for the child's sake, but then you need to be aware and not let him alone with other children.
3.) I should not have left her alone that long with bigger boys.
Three things that went right.
1.) She yelled and screamed, really really loud. She got our attention and protected herself.
2.) All of the parents were proactive and did what they could to minimize and correct the situation. The Boy's dad just sent him away, he didn't deal with it in front of everyone. And he told me right away too.
3.) Apparently that talk we had about this kind of thing last month took root, and she remembered. I wonder why the Boy didn't do anything though.
All said, I think things are okay. I honestly think that because she yelled and we intervened this was more of a positive than negative experience for the Girl for she learned that she has power to stop someone, she learned that it's good to stick up for yourself. I'm still terrified when I think of what could have happened and so I share.
So often when we think of protecting our children from sexual abuse, we think of grown-ups. I had forgotten what I know about children often being perpetrators.
That day, things were simple. The boy was in trouble because she said to stop and he didn't. You stop when someone tells you to. The language is that simple. He is after all 4.
I have wandered my way around the talk several times and have now reduced it to it's most powerful straightforward essence. You need to talk with your small children as well as your older school aged children.
Here is my script if you need it.
Your private parts are the parts covered by your underwear. NO ONE is to touch your private parts, or to touch you anywhere else in a way that you don't want. If someone tries to touch you or make you do something you don't like, you should yell scream bite and kick. Try to run away. Always tell mommy or daddy right away so that we can protect you.end talk
I started out way more complicated than that, but it turns out that it's simple and easy to remember. It's because I had that talk with the Girl that she is okay now.
I add to that this week. If you see someone doing something to someone else that they shouldn't, you run and tell mommy or daddy or grownup that you trust RIGHT AWAY!
That's for the Boy who was more into watching Cars than helping his sister.