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Son Molested by Neighbor's Child

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: Our 10-year-old son just revealed that our neighbor's kid, who is 14, molested him. He thought that this kid was a friend, and so did I. Now my son keeps to himself and cries all the time. I need help to find him a therapist to talk to. I also need to know how to bring this up to the kid's parents. My son was afraid to tell because he was getting threats. Please help.

A: Your son is probably currently overwhelmed with confusion and shame. Please network with your medical provider, local area children's hospitals, mental health clinics, and support groups for parents of kids who have been sexually abused. What your son has gone through demands more than a few chats with a therapist. Make sure that the professionals that counsel him and you (you also need to receive counseling on how to best parent your son in the aftermath of this traumatic event) have extensive experience in dealing with male children his age.

The 14-year-old who sexually abused your son needs help and it's your responsibility to alert the appropriate authorities of his behavior. Telling his parents is a must. Don't be surprised if this boy denies that he sexually abused your son or if his parents refuse to believe that he acted in this way.

Right now, you need to show your son lots of understanding and support, including physical affection. Tell him that this sexual abuse was not his fault, reassuring him that you will not allow this 14-year-old to threaten him any further or to do him any more harm. I know that you will get your family the help that is needed and that you will do what's necessary to make sure that this 14-year-old does not sexually abuse anyone else.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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