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Parents have been struggling over what to tell their children about priests who didn't "just say no." I've been giving talks to parents for more than 20 years about how to discuss sexuality with their children, but this recent question was a first: "My 8-year- old doesn't want to go to church anymore. " I asked the group's members if they had talked to their children about clergy sexual abuse; only one parent raised her hand. Asking too much from kids I'm getting calls from schools and churches about beginning sex abuse prevention programs.

Their faulty assumption is that a child has the physical or social power to stop an adult's actions.The discussion with pre-teenagers and teens is more complex and difficult.They can learn that children have the right to tell others not to touch their bodies.They need to know that sexual abuse occurs when an older, stronger, more powerful person looks at or touches a child's genitals for no reason.


They can be reassured that most adults would never hurt children.

Sadly, they need to know that anyone can abuse children; somehow in the focus on clergy, we have forgotten that in more than three-quarters of cases of sexual abuse, boys and girls are abused by their own male relatives or mothers' boyfriends.


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