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Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse: It’s Preventable, Not Inevitable

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

It can feel scary and foreign looking into our child’s world. So much is changing in a short time and it's hard to know how and when to bring up tough topics. One thing we've learned: It’s never too early—or too late—to talk with your child. And as the purveyors of tough topics, Mountain Youth starts the new year with a conversation many of us would rather not have, but one that is imperative. Our inaugural 2020 event deals with consent.

“The topic of consent came up many times in our parent survey: how to address it, what it is and how to keep our children safe,” explains Carol Johnson, Mountain Youth’s community education manager.

For the January Eat Chat Parent event, Mountain Youth is bringing in renowned author and licensed clinical psychologist Elizabeth L. Jeglic to help address the topic of consent, sexual violence, sexual abuse and how to stay safe. This isn’t a talk about the scary man in the white van, this is about empowerment and staying safe.

“We’ll talk about misconceptions, how sexual abuse happens, who the perpetrators are,” Dr. Jeglic says. “We’ll talk about grooming—it happens with younger children and teenagers as well. We’ll talk about affirmative consent and how to keep [teenagers] safe in relationships.”

With social media ever present, more young people are being groomed online, so Dr. Jeglic will also discuss online safety and signs of sexual abuse.

It feels overwhelming and scary but that’s the point in starting these conversations today—you can start at an age-appropriate place and grow with your child. Thanks to presenting sponsor Vail Health and Eagle Valley Behavioral Health, Mountain Youth is able to help parents and caregivers to learn together and engage in dialogue now. And it helps children to know they have a safe place to come and ask questions.

“We’ll talk about difficult situations and how to think critically and work through them,” she says. Starting as young as fifth grade feels awkward but the sooner we can talk about these topics, statistics show the less children will engage in risky behaviors. Dr. Jeglic will talk about what consent looks like in a teen relationship.

This can be an overlooked topic—but it shouldn’t be. Korrine Winstead, Mountain Youth board member, local parole officer and mother to two teens, shares “In the past year, Eagle County has seen a rise in juvenile criminal filings and convictions in regards to sexual assault charges. The importance of addressing issues of consent, sexting, harassment, and sexual assault with our young people in the community is imperative to their health and well-being. These conversations need to begin at home with parents discussing healthy relationships with their children. Youth and their families need to understand what the consequences are if charges of harassment and/or sexual assault are filed, and how these types of charges can alter the futures that they are working so hard for.”

Dr. Jeglic will encourage interactive discussions so parents can get a head start on the conversations… and so the young people in attendance can hear the perspectives.

We’ve all learned that not talking about a subject certainly doesn’t make the topic disappear. “We’ll finish by talking about signs of sex abuse and what to do if you suspect somebody has been abused; how to deal with that, what to do. It’s a very difficult conversation to have.

“These are hard conversations to have, and I’m impressed parents are willing to have it. The reason sexual abuse so prevalent is because we are not talking about it. The more we talk, the less likely [someone] is able to abuse our kids.”

About the speaker: Dr. Elizabeth L. Jeglic, a licensed clinical psychologist, Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, a mother of three and co-author of the book Protecting your Child from Sexual Abuse: What You Need To Know To Keep Your Kids Safe . She is an Associate Editor of the journal Sexual Abuse and is the co-Director of the Sex Offender Research Lab (SORL). Dr. Jeglic maintains a blog on Psychology Today and her work has been cited in the New York Times, Huffington Post, Prevention Magazine, Readers Digest, Parents Magazine, Fatherly, and Working Mother among others.

If You Go:

Free dinner, free childcare and Spanish interpretation.

January 14, Eagle Valley High School

5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

January 15, Battle Mountain High School

5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

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