How Should We Talk to Boys About Sexual Abuse?

June 12, 2012, 3:21 pm


Have you talked with your sons and daughters about the Jerry Sandusky case, and if you have, what did you say? Opening arguments in the trial against Mr. Sandusky, along with Amos Kamil’s New York Times Magazine story this weekend about sexual abuse at the Horace Mann School in New York City, have me revisiting what I’ve said to my children — in particular, my oldest son.

“When I was at Horace Mann,” Mr. Kamil wrote, giving a little back story on the 6th Floor blog, “all of these stories were swirling around us. Some of it was rumor, some of it was conjecture, some of it was latent homophobia.” Thirty years and more after the fact, the young men at the center of some of those stories shared them with Mr. Kamil (although he writes that young women, too, suffered at the hands of the teachers and administration at Horace Mann, those aren’t the stories he tells).

It’s the “latent homophobia” Mr. Kamil describes that leaves me wondering if saying the same things to my son as I do to my daughter about sexual abuse is enough. I can talk about inappropriate touching, I can talk about it being fine to leave anyone and anywhere that makes them uncomfortable. I can talk about how if they come to me, at any time, I will believe them, and I will protect them.

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Anthony Brown

Anthony Brown

Attorney and Advocate at Time For Families
Who am I? On the deepest level, I am blessed. I have an amazing partner, who I have known since 1989 and been married to since 2004. I am the donor dad of two beautiful daughters who have two moms who are equally amazing. My husband and I have expanded our family through surrogacy and have a seven-year old son. I have had three careers (acting, massage therapy and the law) and I am still discovering myself. I am the Board Chair of Men Having Babies. The one thing I know for sure is that life is about trusting your instincts. Family is an instinct.
Anthony Brown