Talking to your kids about sexual abuse following incident at Lebanon YMCA

Kids Harbor Child Advocacy Center
Kids Harbor Child Advocacy Center(ky3)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:07 PM CDT
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LEBANON, Mo. (KY3) - Following the incident at the Lebanon YMCA, it can be difficult to talk to kids about sexual abuse.

Kids Harbor offers advice on how you can do that in an age appropriate way.

”As they’re growing up, we talk about not keeping secrets from from our parents and making sure that there’s open lines of communication. We talk about giving kids control over their own bodies,” said Cara Gerdiman, director of Kids Harbor.

Kids Harbor is a child advocacy center in Osage Beach.

”We are a safe, child friendly setting where kids can come talk about abuse they may have experienced and process through that abuse as well as heal from any trauma that they have experienced,” said Gerdiman.

Sexual abuse is underreported, not everyone comes forward, when they do, it’s often some time later.

”The statistics say that only about 38% of sexual abuse is actually reported to the authorities. And kids who do report are when sexual abuse occurs it a child often doesn’t disclose for six months or more before that before they disclose abuse,” said Gerdiman.

One in 10 children will be sexual abused before their 18th birthday, as adults we should be looking for warning signs. Sometimes they are hard to spot.

“Those can be signs, chronic anxiety, stomach pain, those can all be signs,” said Gerdiman. “Sometimes signs include failing grades at school, when you have children whose grade suddenly change that may be a sign and things that we need to talk about.”

Kids Harbor has handprints on the walls these are supposed to represent kids of all ages who are survivors and show that you are not alone.

According to investigators, this has happened before at the Lebanon YMCA by the same man. Police have video showing it happened days before and the girls say it happened last summer, but they were too afraid to say anything.

KY3 called Lebanon YMCA for comment. The staff says they have no knowledge of this before that phone call and would not do an on camera interview.

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