Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Mom concerned by “touching” between 7 yr olds

June 9, 2017

We can learn to keep ourselves safe.

We can learn to keep ourselves safe.

This mom of a second grader is understandably unnerved by her seven-year-old son’s account of being “inappropriate touched” by one of his friends. She’s especially concerned about the possibility that the friend’s actions might have long-term negative affects on her son.

Dear Annie,

My 7-year-old son recently told me that he has been touched inappropriately at school by a friend. Apparently, this was happening for quite a while but my son didn’t want to get the other kid in trouble. I took the necessary steps: spoke with the principal, filed a complaint, etc. The disturbing thing was that my son was the only one the other boy was doing this to.

They have been separated at school because even after our report, the child was still doing this. How will this effect my son later on?  I don’t think my son understands the severity of what has happened and still mentions the other boy in conversation. Is this normal?  If he sees the other boy every day of school, how does that work in a child’s brain?  Do you think we should switch schools?  He has many friends in the school he is in now, but I want to protect him. Thank you for your help.

Dear Mom,

Obviously, these kinds of situations can upset a parent. It might help to remind yourself that it’s normal for young children to be curious about their own bodies and the bodies of their friends. Exploratory behavior driven by that curiosity is not the same thing as adult sexuality. I highly recommend this article to give you some reassurance about what’s ok and what’s not.

You say you don’t think your son understands “the severity” of what’s happened. You haven’t provided enough information for me to evaluate whether what happened is “severe” or not, but it’s clear you deserve support. If you haven’t already done so, please reach out to the school psychologist. Most school districts employ one either on a full-time or part time basis. If there is no school psychologist or school counselor, ask for a referral to a family therapist through your son’s pediatrician. Explain the situation and ask all of your questions. It’s possible the psychologist will ask to speak with your son, alone and/or with your being right there beside him. Hopefully this conversation will help you and your son.

Now let’s talk about the other boy for a moment. It’s good that you talked to the principal. I can’t imagine the principal has not spoken to the other boy’s parents. Repeated overtly sexual behavior in young children may indicate sexual abuse or exposure to adult sexual behavior or content. This child may need professional help and/or protection.

Back to your little boy, it sounds like he could use some practice standing up for himself. It’s not helpful to stay silent when he’s uncomfortable just because he doesn’t want to get someone “in trouble.” His private parts belong to him and no one else. He needs your help understanding how to take care of and respect himself. Before you begin this conversation (and it may well be a series of ongoing conversations), take a look at this Safe Touches Personal Training for Children created by The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. You’ll find very helpful tips on how to empower your son.

I wish you well.

In friendship,
Annie

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Sweetie, it’s time for The Talk

February 28, 2014

I wanna hold you hand and...

I wanna hold your hand and…

Friday is Family Confidential day. Before you race over and check out my latest podcast (Having “The Talk” with Tweens with Marlene Mahurin, co-founder of the online parent-tween sex education course, Time for the Talk) let me  tell you why I wanted to interview a sex educator.

I’ve been answering teen email questions for almost 17 years. A lot of them are about sex. Like these:

  • All of my friends have their periods except me. What’s wrong with me??
  • Does having sex make your breasts bigger?
  • Can you get pregnant swallowing cum?
  • This girl and I didn’t expect to have sex, but it just sort of happened. Is it possible she might be pregnant?
  • My best friend who has been like a brother to me just told me that he is gay. I was shocked and just got up and left. I don’t know what to say to him.
  • My bf and me are 14 and we’ve already been dating for two years. I’m ready to have sex with him but all my friends are saying no and I’m not ready. I feel like I’m ready. What should I do?
  • My friend is eleven, started her period and might have had unprotected sex with her boyfriend. She says she’s pregnant and I am worried if she keeps the baby she may not know how to be healthy when you’re pregnant.
  • My mom walked in on me playing down there. She’s been real mean to me since then. She calls me a slut and a whore. I tell her that I’m not having sex or anythings, but she doesn’t believe me.

They say, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” That might be true, occasionally, but when it comes to teens, what they don’t know about sex, puberty, sexual orientation, can and often does hurt them.

Your kids are getting a sex education all the time, from the media, the internet and their clueless friends. It’s probably not be the education you want for them. Do yourself and your kids a favor, listen to the podcast, Having the Talk with Tweens. so you can feel more comfortable talking to your kids about sex.

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