WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The investigation into Caleb Gaston has some people asking how to talk to children about sexual abuse, especially when they’re young.
But child advocacy experts say it’s important to start the conversation from as early as when they first start talking.
Experts tell KSN News it’s a series of conversations you should have with your child about their body parts and safety. They say this will help build trust with your child so in the case abuse happens, they will feel more comfortable coming forward.
The conversation about sexual abuse against kids can be a hard one to have.
Experts working with victims in the community say it should be talked about throughout a child’s life.
“It’s important for parents to use proper anatomy terminology and to not be ashamed of using the proper terminology,” said Tina Peck, Program Coordinator of Forensic Nursing Services.
Tina Peck leads the forensic nursing program at Via Christi Hospital St. Joseph where they examine children, at times very young, who’ve experienced sexual abuse.
She says there’s no one single indicator of abuse and it’s important for not only parents, but any caregiver of your kids to know their habits.
“That’s why that open communication and conversation for children to know that it’s okay to talk to their parents, and that they’re a safe person to talk to,” said Peck.
They work closely with the Sedgwick County Child Advocacy Center. The executive director says, the majority of cases they see are sexual abuse.
She says abuse can start when children are just days old, and agrees kids need to be able to talk about their bodies if abuse were to take place.
“We name our eyes and our ears and our elbows, and it’s no different for our private parts as well, we need to have names that are tools to be able to use when children need to be able to describe that something has happened to them,” said Diana Schunn, Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County.
Schunn says stress reactions, a lack of engagement, and nightmares can be signs of abuse with children. She says during these conversations, it’s also important to stay calm although they’re difficult situations.
Both experts said it’s important to listen to your child and if you are concerned about abuse, without a doubt call 911 and make a report with police.
Wichita Police have also said if you believe your child may be a victim related to these recent cases call the exploited and missing child unit at 316-660-9478.