What if someone says my child had done something sexually harmful?
This is likely to feel very upsetting and it can be hard at first to think straight.
- Find space to express and make sense of your feelings about it all. You could, for example, talk to someone you trust, or go for a long walk. This will help to prevent any strong feelings, like anger or defensiveness, taking over in other places, for example, when you are with your child or with the person who made the claim. Everyone will benefit from your ability to take a calm, reflective approach.
- As a first principle, take what is being said seriously. Have a conversation with the person who has made the claim about your child, asking as many open questions as you can to make sense of what they are saying. You may not feel such a discussion is emotionally possible immediately.
- Explore the matter with your child. It will help you get to the truth if they know that whatever they say you will not reject them, shame them or lose control.
- Communicate hope – let them know that whatever they share there is a way forward.
You might never find out exactly what happened. If this is the case, it is still worth reading the advice below, because there will be things that will help if your child is at risk of harmful sexual behaviour, but won’t hurt if they’re not.