SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Child advocates say parents may want to have some kind of conversation with their children after the recent arrest of a Nixa assistant principal.
Colby Fronterhouse was arrested for posing as a 14-year-old girl online to get sexual images from underage girls.
“We as parents and caregivers tend to say ‘How was school,’ and you’ll get, ‘It was fine,'” said Micki Lane, an education specialist at the Child Advocacy Center. “But it’s more than that, it’s being open to listen and it’s that ‘Seems like you’ve had a rough day today, and I’m here to listen.'”
Lane said providing a safe space for young teens is something parents should start from birth.
“For instance, when you’re teaching your child about all the different names on their body, that you don’t exclude those that we would consider as genitalia,” said Lane. “You just teach the child what those words are so if something happens to them or something the doesn’t feel right, they know how to speak about it in a clear fashion so that others understand that this is a concern.”
As parents, Lane said it’s important to know what policies childcare or schools have when it comes to one-on-one interaction.
“You need to do it in a public area, or if the door needs to be shut, there should be a window or something that could be easily interrupted,” said Lane. “Again, that helps for children to learn that okay, others care about my safety, and if something doesn’t feel right, that’s something adults can see that that’s boundary-breaking behavior.”
Lane warns parents to stay away from being overly direct.
“Because they might not be ready to talk about it, and a simple yes or no may not really lead you to what they’ve experienced or what’s going on,” said Lane.
With situations regarding sexual abuse involving someone your child knows, it’s best to treat it as a loss and allow time for mourning. Lane said validate that the situation is confusing and responsibility falls on adults when it comes to body safety.
The Child Advocacy Center provides free training materials on their website about educating children on bodies.