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My Teen Was Molested
Q: My 13-year-old son revealed to his therapist that he was sexually molested by a friend's grandfather when he recently spent the weekend at their home. I called the friend's mother and she wouldn't believe me. My son is very shaken and doesn't want to talk about how he's feeling.
I know I need to call the police, but I'm concerned about causing additional emotional damage. How can I handle this?
A: Please ask your son's physician for a referral to a therapist who is experienced in treating the sexual abuse of kids. Tell your son that he was very brave to tell you about this abuse and that you know he's scared. Assure him that you'll get him the help he needs.
You must report this molestor in order to stop him from preying on any other kids. Ask the therapist for suggestions regarding your son's talking with the police and how you should proceed with reporting this crime. Your son may beg you not to do anything about this, but you must take action.
Your son is feeling very guilty right now because I'm sure that he believes a 13-year-old never should have let this happen. He is probably blaming himself. Please assure him that it is not his fault and that you'll be there for him throughout whatever follows. Kids can and do recover from these kinds of traumatic events. It will take time, professional help, and your unflinching understanding.
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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.