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Marriage and Family

The Things Kids Say

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11/01/2009 - Many people may remember a television show which aired between 1996 and 2000 called Kids Say the Darndest Things. Art Linkletter and his co-host Bill Cosby would interview kids, usually ages between 3-8, and receive humorous responses. This was actually based on a segment from Art Linkletter's show, Art Linkletter's House Party which began as a radio program in 1945 and ended as a television series in 1967.

In one episode, Linkletter asked a young boy who the boss was in his house. The boy responded that both his mother and father were the bosses. Linkletter leaned back and said, "Hey, you are a diplomat are ya?" The boy replied, "No, I am a Catholic Baptist."

While kids do often say the "darndest" things, they regularly also say important things. The problem for many people is how to discern what warrants full attention. Kids today face many dangers, many of which are extremely frightening, embarrassing, shaming, confusing and damaging. Children are facing physical and sexual abuse, bullying, neglect, exposure to inappropriate material, drugs and alcohol. Kids hear from various sources messages such as they are a nuisance, unimportant and unloved. As a result, they experience anxiety, depression, addiction and even thoughts and plans of suicide. When a child experiences this, they need to know that they have a safe place in which they can turn to and be heard without criticism or unbelief.

A child's report that he or she has been exposed to, or experienced, any form of abuse or neglect needs to be taken as important. Here are a few tips to receiving such a report.

Reassure the child that you care about them and what they have to say to you is very important.

Ensure their safety and communicate your desire to make sure they stay safe.

Allow them to speak what they are comfortable to say, then turn it over to authorities and professionals who are trained at working with both the child's emotional needs as well working within the legal implications.

Thank the child for their courage and strength in giving the report.

Emphasize to the child that they have done the right thing.

Parents whose own children have reported an abuse may find themselves having difficulty believing them. Believing the report may be especially difficult if the accused is a loved one or family member. Children in this situation may find a complex mixture of thoughts and emotions such as fear of betraying the abuser or of hurting the family. If the child faces skepticism this can validate these fears and give the message that they are "bad" for bringing it up. The response from the person receiving the report can be the difference in how the child survives the incident. No matter what the circumstances, if a child reports an abuse, it should not be taken as a "darndest" thing, but rather a "vital" thing.

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