Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Child Abuse

Childhood Experimentation or Abuse

07/23/2001

Question:

While at a rental cottage, my five young grandchildren-unbeknownst to the adults--found an x-rated movie and watched it. The 8 year old girl subsequently acted out part of the movie with her six year old cousin and told him not to tell. The acting out dealt with kissing private areas as far as we can figure out. The little boy finally cried and cried and wanted to take baths. He told his mother he had a secret and then told her the story.

How on earth do we handle this without further upsetting him--and even more importantly deal with the eight year old who instigated this? Their parents don`t want to traumatize them but want to reassure the boy and make sure the little girl knows it was wrong. I`m sure she does in some form because she told him not to tell.

It was more than the usual "you show me yours and I`ll show you mine" event and we are upset.

Answer:

This scenario raises many concerns: Regarding the 8 year old girl, it is important to determine whether she was simply `re-enacting` what was seen from the video or whether she has been victimized herself and was `re-enacting` previous episodes of sexual abuse. We would recommend that she see a licensed professional (therapist or psychologist) who is comfortable with children and child sexual abuse. A therapist can facilitate discussion and does not have an emotional investment which family and friends may have. Depending on what is learned, the therapist may need to report possible sexual abuse to the local children`s protective service. Tell your 6 year old grandson that it was a brave and good thing to disclose what happened. If he is disturbed about the event, allow him to see a therapist or psychologist as well. Randy Schlievert, MD Insuring the Children Child Abuse Fellow Patricia Myers, MSW Director, Social Services

For more information:

Go to the Child Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati

Patricia A Myers, LISW
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati