Friday, October 4, 2013

Ask FPR: How to Deal with Sexualized Behavior When You Don't Know History

 by John and Diane

We often get messages from our readers here on FPR, and take time to answer to the best of our ability, after some time goes by we like to erase any personal data, and share the exchange with everyone, as we know that for each One parent that asks a question, at least a dozen more have the same issue.

Here is an issue we cover over and over again, but it never hurts to talk about again, maybe in a new way.  Sexualized behavior in foster (or adopted) kids is difficult, and even more so when you are unaware of any sexual abuse history in the child's past.  New foster parents are often afraid and unsure as to how to handle this behavior, and if it's paired with an attachment disorder (and commonly manipulative behavior) the complexity of the situation goes up ten-fold.

The below is part of an ongoing exchange with a parent of a couple of foster children. She also had biological children in the house.  The discussion revolves around a 7 year old foster daughter. The child may or may not have an attachment disorder.

Q: The 7 girl we have is demonstrating very sexualised behaviour ie drawings,verbal, acting like a teenager we do not know her past other that there were 5 older brothers what advice can you give us thanks 

A:  FPR:  

My first bit of advice is for self-protection for the men and boys in the house.. your husband and any brothers in the house. You want to have cameras in the public areas in the house because undoubtedly at some point she may accuse someone of something untrue and you want to be able to prove that it didnt happen.

You need to get her counseling as well, if she isnt in any yet. This is a huge red flag and I would guess as you probably have already, that she had been sexually abused by someone earlier in her life.

Children who have been sexually abused will role play the sexual abuse with other kids in the home and the other kids will not understand what is happening, so they get caught up in it, so counseling help is necessary for the whole family.

Don't hide the situation from the whole family. Have a family meeting about it and talk about it frankly, (that she is drawing these things.) Let her know that she is not going to be punished for drawing things like that, but she cannot act out anything like that. Talking about these things is important to protect her and the rest of the kids in the house.

 Check out the blog post "Putting a Bounty on Bad Behavior"

 Don't over react to her acting out sexual behaviors, treat it like anyother bad behavior. Talk with your husband and have a safety plan in regards to your husband and sons where you don't put him in situations where she could accuse him of stuff... if this isnt nipped in the bud she could accuse him of something inappropriate by the time she is 13.

 I have dealt with sexualized boys and girls in my home, and it can get scary fast. You really have to document everything and be sure to get counselors involved now so that it is documented that you are working on these things.

 Talk frankly with her about masturbation and things like that as she had already been sexualized so, the cat is out of the bag, so to speak... but let her know you won't tolerate the behavior in the home (public areas) or from her at her age (having sex or acting out her drawings.)

Use the House Rules we have on our blog with the Sexual Issues additions and the Bounty on Bad Behaviors info. with the sexual issues addressed as well so that everyone in the home, the kids, know to tell you when something happens.

Re: the masturbation etc.. realize you can't stop things like that.. you want to control it.. the location where its happening,  Let her know that its ok to do in a private area, be blunt, because its a natural behavior when kids are exposed to sexual abuse.  But only IF you do come across it.
I also have a few books listed on the blog on this topic as well.. look under the Recommended Books area towards the bottom of the blog home page.

Do you have a problem you can't find an answer to? Send us a message here or on our FB page and we will do our best to help you find an answer. 

Attribution Some rights reserved by Ivan McClellan Photography

1 comment:

  1. Great piece about a topic not often covered. Will share. Thanks !