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Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse

August 24, 2012, 5:56 PM by Brady Mallory

Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Abuse

It is a tricky subject for many parents, but the child pornography allegations against a Minnesota college football coach, proves it's important to talk to your kids about how to spot sexual abuse.

We are reminded there is no 'typical case' of sexual abuse.  According to police, videos of naked children under the age of ten were found in 46-year-old Todd Hoffner's work phone.

As the head football coach at Minnesota State University-Mankato, he led Mankato to the playoffs two years in a row and now Hoffner faces 15 years behind bars. 

"That's frequently one of the reasons, especially younger children don't tell about sexual abuse because they don't understand that this is wrong or different," Sanford Pediatrician Dr. Nancy Free said.

It is tough for any mom and dad to think about and perhaps that is why we could not find one to go on camera for an interview. We wanted to know how they talk to their kids about how to report sexual abuse. 

Free said talking to your kids about their bodies, using actual terms and how to know if an adult is hurting them should start at an early age.  She also stressed they should know their "private parts" are private, but children should not be raised to feel embarrassed or shamed about talking about them.

"We have to teach our children, that if it's covered by your bathing suit, it's a private part and it's not ok for other people to touch or engage in sexual activities," Free said.

The case brings up an important lesson to teach your kids. Free pointed out there does not have to be touching or physical contact for it to be sexual abuse.

"Whether it involves taking photos of the child in a sexual pose or position, whether it involves an adult showing their sexual parts to a child, sharing pornography.  All voyeurism, all those kinds of things are sexual abuse," Free said.

According to Hoffner's defense, the videos were misinterpreted and a "private family moment."

Free did not want to comment specifically on Hoffner's case, but said there is a big difference between naked pictures of older children and a baby in a bathtub. As technology advances, it is more important than ever to teach your children the difference.

"Certainly with film you had to go some place else to be developed, people had to look and see.  But with our digital technology, it's everywhere," Free said.

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