Why parents should seize the Harvey Weinstein accusations as a teachable moment

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The explosive sexual incidents levied against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein — along with the ‘Me too‘ movement — are prompting parents to talk to their kids about good touch and bad touch.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Saunders with Hartford Healthcare recommends seizing the moment with age-appropriate conversations.

“For older kids, we might say, ‘boundary.’ For young kids, we’d say, ‘there’s a bubble around you and people don’t get to come into your bubble unless you give them permission.'”

Be specific with younger children.

“For example, Johnny is not allowed to hit you or touch you. Mary shouldn’t give you a hug without your permission,” Dr. Sanders explained.

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Parents should also make sure their children understand that it’s okay to talk to an adult they trust.

With older kids, start with a question.

“Sometimes, the best avenue is to start with friends. ‘Have any of your friends experienced any sexual assault or sexual harassment?’ Start with them and then say, ‘has it happened to you?'”

Dr. Saunders says it’s an opportunity to help your child fine-tune that so called, “Gut feeling.”

“It is not okay for someone else to infringe on your boundary or your personal space or your bubble,” she said.

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Trusting that instinct, she says, could serve them well as adults.

“It’s trusting that gut instinct and then doing your best to stay away from those situations that put you back into that kind of a dilemma,” she explained.

Just as critical is validating what your child is telling you.

Dr. Saunders says, “Something bad happens to me and your parent says, ‘I believe you and I will help you.’ That is where the healing takes place.”

She points out that the emotional damage a victim experiences in these kinds of incidents is compounded when they are not validated with the support they need.