I have permission from a fellow Mom friend to share this story. All names have been changed in order to protect the privacy of the family. I wanted to blog about this because when I heard it, it was the “punch in the stomach” wakeup call I needed.
My friend Mary got a phone call from her daughter’s school recently. It was the school counselor. She wanted to talk to Mary about something her 8-year-old daughter had written on a sheet of paper. You see, the school recently had the Take Charge of Your Body program. It’s a sexual abuse prevention program that’s in schools in Black Hawk County. It’s a vital program offered by Family & Children’s Council…where I serve as Executive Director.
The students are asked to answer some questions on a sheet of paper…personal questions about inappropriate behavior.
“Your daughter said there was an incident a couple of years ago.”
Mary said her stomach dropped. Her hands were clammy. She felt dizzy.
The school counselor went on to tell her that her daughter, Stephanie, told her it all happened at a sleepover at a friend’s house. Stephanie was just 6-years-old. Her little friend, Lisa who was also 6 at the time, told Stephanie to pull down her pants so she could see her private parts. Stephanie said she told Lisa no over and over again. She said Lisa told her that she was going to get all of their friends to hate her if she didn’t do it. Stephanie said she never let Lisa see anything.
The counselor went on to tell Mary, “this is why Stephanie never wanted to play with Lisa.”
Mary told me her eyes filled up with tears because she remembers when Stephanie suddenly became angry when Lisa’s name was mentioned. She said Stephanie did not want to play with her anymore…she didn’t want to be around her anymore. She would tell Mary, “She is not a good person, Mom. She’s mean.” Mary said she just thought it was the beginning of girl drama and let it go.
Stephanie told the counselor that she and her mom have a great relationship but she was afraid to tell her about this because she was friends with Lisa’s mom…she said she was embarrassed 🙁
I know Mary and her daughter had a long heart-to-heart that night.
I know Mary is forever grateful to the school counselor for calling her immediately.
I know we were all reminded just how IMPORTANT our Take Charge of Your Body program really is. It gave a young 8-year-old the power, strength, knowledge and courage to come out of silence. It’s teaching kids what’s appropriate and what is not appropriate. It’s letting kids know that THEIR VOICE will be heard.
If you think this isn’t happening in your neighborhood…well, that’s just foolish.
Mary told me that she shared all of this with another friend who said, “Well, it’s not that big of a deal. She wasn’t touched or anything.”
Let’s stop with that mentality.
Nobody should ask our children to pull down their pants so they can look at their private parts.
Nobody should make our children feel uncomfortable.
It doesn’t matter if the other person is 6, 16 or 60. It’s inappropriate.
This program is in your child’s school. They’re addressing it. But it can’t stop there.
It’s time to talk about it at home.