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Centerpointe Research

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

That seems to have  been the motto for child abuse.  Caregivers should not ask children if they have been abused because it might upset the child, but more likely because it might upset the abuser.  Who are we more afraid for?  Who are we most afraid of?  Adults usually have power and children usually don’t.  Who can make the most trouble if he or she is involved in ongoing or even past child abuse.  Yes, the adult.  Almost every child knows this.  Remember the old saying, “Children should be seen and not heard?”

Often children believe that because they are or were the victim of child abuse that they were at least or somewhat at fault.  They may also believe that because it happened to them unawares that they are not safe and may not then believe that their parents or caregivers can protect them.  In the past it was often easy to sell parents on the idea that adults tell the truth more often then children do.  How many confrontations have occurred in the past where an adults tells on the child and the child gets punished.  How often did the child in the past tell on an adult and the adult got punished?

If an adult does not truely believe that a child has been abused how can that adult be expected to protect him or her.  If an accusation has been made and an adult who is supposed to supervise the interaction if still permitted between the child and the adult under question, do you think that person will adequately supervise the child?  No!  At some point the person doing the supervising will walk away or have their attention directed elsewhere and forget their primary responsibility was to watch the child and allow their attention to be directed somewhere and even leave the room to take a phone call, answer the call of nature or do a chore.  They don’t think either that they won’t be gone that long so the adult won’t have time to do anything without being caught or that the child really doesn’t need all this supervision with this adult.

If you believe a child has been abused, then do whatever possible to take the child out of the situation or if that is not possible that you or someone who will put the child first we should “actively” supervise the interaction and not take their eyes off the child even for a second and of course not leave the child alone with the adult even for a second also.  If he or she has to leave the situation, will take the child with him or her and bring the child back when they are free to continue closely supervising the interaction.

If a person does not believe that another adult might possibly be a danger to the child then they can and probably will not believe it is necessary to supervise and, for example, as long as they are within ear shot, nothing can happen to the child.  Or they were not gone long enough for anything to happen.  Or they can be easily convinced by the adult that the whole thing is silly and supervision is not really necessary.  Then it is easy for the supervisor to be “lax” and/or to cooperate with the adult by giving them some “alone” time with the child.rp_300px-Friendship_love.JPG

Where do faith, hope, and trust come from? (See previous post on faith, hope, and trust.)  They come from the experience of children being able to trust in the people in their life including, but not only, parents, teachers, neighbors, older siblings or other children, etc.  How fragile are these beliefs and they are easily broken when a child can not trust that they will not be harmed, there is no hope that the adults in their life will take good care of them and no faith in those people to do the right thing by them.

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