Sexual harassment is a topic parents should not avoid talking about with their teens

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Talking about and dealing with claims of sexual assault and harassment is never easy – not for adults, and especially not for teens.

Deborah Callins, a counselor with the National Children’s Advocacy Center (NCAC), says teenagers are sponges for information.

“They get a lot of information from their peers and from social media,” said Callins.

That’s why it is so important for parents to have tough conversations with their teens.

“Parents need to be sure to take teachable moments and share their point of view on certain things,” said Callins. “It may be something that`s on TV and at commercial they talk about it, how something might be inappropriate, what is an appropriate response, how can you handle something better?”

Conversations about sexual abuse and harassment will embolden teens to speak up if they fall victim to or witness harassment. Callins encourages parents to help their children answer questions like:

  • “If you feel like you’re being harassed what can you say to the person who’s doing it?”
  • “If you see someone else being harassed what can you say to stand up for them?”
  • “Who can you report it to?”
  • “Who are the trusted adults you can talk to?”

Once a teen reports harassment, abuse, or pressure from a peer, Callins says they need to be able to trust their parent or guardian to take action.

She says parents need to alert guardians where harassment may be taking place. If it’s at school, talk to teachers, coaches, or guidance counselors. If a teacher or school administrator witnesses or hears about harassment or abuse, follow mandatory reporting guidelines.

The NCAC will host a principal training seminar October 15th from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. They will cover topics such as: mandated reporting, child abuse prevention and detection.