Skip to content

How to talk to children about the Church sex abuse scandal

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By Christine Rousselle (CNA/EWTN)
9/10/2018 (4 months ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

When speaking to their children about sexual abuse scandals in the Church, parents should listen to their children's concerns and be careful to not to make assumptions, experts told CNA.

Highlights

By Christine Rousselle (CNA/EWTN)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
9/10/2018 (4 months ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: How to talk, Church sex abuse scandal, catholic news


Washington D.C.,(CNA) - When discussing the issue of abuse, "the first step is to be sensitive [to] the age and stage the child's in," Dr. Gregory Popcak, founder and executive director of the Pastoral Solutions Institute, told CNA.

"Certainly, a kindergarten age child would not need to know as much as an adolescent would, or even a middle schooler."

When broaching the issue, Popcak said that parents should ask their children about what they understood about what they had heard, or what they think had happened.

Parents should determine what their children actually know before they ask them what they think about the situation, explained Popcak. He suggested parents ask questions to help frame the discussion, giving examples like "When you heard that, what does that mean to you?" and "What did you make of that?" to try to discern where to begin discussing sexual abuse.

Younger children especially may not know how to put their feelings into words. Popcak suggested that parents should provide multiple choices of answers, such as "scared," "sad," or "confused." It is paramount in this type of conversation to identify a child's knowledge, understanding, and reaction to a situation, he said, so a parent can address the child's main concern.

Parents, he explained, tend to "get really anxious and sometimes try to over-solve for the child," and that this is why it is important to determine what exactly a child needs from his or her parents.

Instead of attempting to over-explain or resolve a problem, Popcak said the most important thing a parent could do is to reassure their child that while they may be afraid or confused, their parents will be there to look out for them and to protect them. Small children should also be reminded that they can and should go to their parents to talk about things that upset them or make them uncomfortable.

Roy Petitfils, a licensed professional counselor who has worked with teenagers for the past 25 years, agreed with many of Popcak's points. He told CNA that he would advise parents to carefully consider their children's age before beginning to discuss the abuse crisis, saying that younger children simply don't need or want to know more than is necessary, or they may be oblivious to everything.

"Not everything that can be said should be said. Just because it's happened or is happening doesn't mean they need to know all about it," Petitfils said to CNA.

"As parents our role is to allow our kids access to age-appropriate information."

Petitfils also said that parents should not attend therapy sessions with their children, as adults handle feelings and emotions differently than children. Adults "should not process [their] feelings with young people, because it will only add to their anxiety and confusion," he explained.

Parents should instead strive to validate the thoughts and feelings of their children, Petitfils said. They could say things like, "It makes perfect sense to me that you're angry, scared and confused about all of this," and explain that these feelings are normal.

Coming to terms with the trauma of sexual abuse in the Church affects Catholics of all ages. But while parents may themselves be upset by reading graphic accounts of some cases, it is very important that they keep their emotions in check when talking about it with their children, Petitfils said. Otherwise, this may make the situation worse.

"Telling your child you're angry in a calm, but serious tone is helpful. Screaming, stomping and slamming things while you're angry will only frighten and confuse your child even more."

Your Prayer Requests 'LIVE'

---


'Help Give every Student and Teacher FREE resources for a world-class Moral Catholic Education'


Copyright 2019 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2019
Young People and the Example of Mary.
That young people, especially in Latin America, follow the example of Mary and respond to the call of the Lord to communicate the joy of the Gospel to the world.


Comments


More U.S.

Fr. Frank Pavone on The Pro-life Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Watch

Image of Fr Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

As we observe another federal holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. it†s time to say so loud and clear, and stop pretending ... continue reading


Bill to ban revenge porn introduced in Montana Watch

Image of

The state of Montana is considering a bill that would criminalize revenge porn - the circulation of nude photos of another person without ... continue reading


Pro-life Congress members ask Trump to veto any bills that expand abortion Watch

Image of

Pro-life members of Congress this week sent U.S. President Donald Trump two companion letters requesting that he veto any legislation that ... continue reading


The Personal Side of Roe and Doe Watch

Image of

The marchers come by the hundreds of thousands to Washington, DC this Friday.  Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life - ... continue reading


Religious liberty innate to every human person, Trump says Watch

Image of

Religious freeom is innate and must be protected, US president Donald Trump said in his proclamation for Religious Freedom Day, which is ... continue reading


Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.