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Summer is here and if you’re like many parents, you have booked summer camps for your kids to attend, so they don’t drive you insane *COUGH*, I mean, so they have a well-balanced summer. Camp can be summed up as new kids + new adults = new social dynamic, so now’s the time to brush up on convos about bodies and boundaries.
I want to start out by saying that the majority of sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the victim knows well (1), so stranger danger doesn’t quite live up to its reputation. But next up in perpetrator probability are people who your kid knows well but you do not (2). Hence, summer camps! Now, mind you, I’m writing this post as a mom and sex educator, not necessarily as the prevention scientist and professor that I also am because (to my knowledge) there hasn’t been a ton of research on summer camps.
But really, summer camp is so fun! I went to them as a kid and send my own kid to them, so I don’t think they are dangerous spaces. But they are spaces for kids to apply their social knowledge and practice their social skills in a new environment. Consider addressing the following:
Chances are, nothing bad will happen to your kid at summer camp. But use this as another opportunity to continue “the talk”. Just like the repetitive act of teaching your kid to share, use the toilet, and put their clothes in the laundry basket, they also need repetition to appreciate how awesome their bodies are, how powerful their voices are, and how in charge of their own lives they are.
(1) Cromer, L.D. & Goldsmith, R.E. (2010) Child Sexual Abuse Myths: Attitudes, Beliefs, and Individual Differences. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 19, 618-647.
(2) Colton, M., Roberts, S. & Vanstone, M. (2010) Sexual Abuse by Men Who Work with Children. Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, 19, 345-364
(3) Nickerson, A. B., Aloe, A. M., Livingston, J. A., & Feeley, T. H. (2014). Measurement of the bystander intervention model for bullying and sexual harassment. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 391-400.
(4) Lichty, L. F., & Campbell, R. (2012). Targets and witnesses: Middle school students’ sexual harassment experiences. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 32, 414-430.
(5) Chein, J., Albert, D., O’Brien, L., Uckert, K., & Steinberg, L. (2011). Peers increase adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brain’s reward circuitry. Developmental Science, 14, 1-10.
(6) Pinkleton, B.E., Austin, E.W., Chen, Y. & Cohen, M. (2012) The Role of Media Literacy in Shaping Adolescents' Understanding of and Responses to Sexual Portrayals in Mass Media. Journal of Health Communication, 17, 460-476,
About this Blog:
I'm here to help us discuss sexuality, gender, sexual media, and social media by integrating information from academic and mainstream sources. I do this so you can be informed about what is going on in the sex research world and apply the research to your life. I hope this process produces more sexually competent people who raise sexually competent kids.
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