Child abuse situation (long)

This is my first post as a new member and I was hoping to make a light hearted reply to some other thread, but something happened yesterday that changed my life.

I found out yesterday that my 5 year old daughter had been touched by our neighbor’s 14 year old son. My wife was getting her ready for bed and asked her to get a new pair of underwear out of the drawer. My daughter started ripping through the drawer and was becoming very upset. My wife asked her what was wrong and my daughter said that she didn’t like her underwear because “Tommy” (not his name) always knew what color she wore.

Through some gentle questioning, my wife found out that while my daughter was at our neighbors house that “Tommy” had tricked her on previous occasions to show him her underwear and yesterday had gotten her to pull down her underwear and he touched her between her legs. There was no digital penetration, just a touch to the outer folds. My daughter said that it made her feel sad and she started to cry.

We stayed calm and reassuring so she would not see how upset we were. We kept telling her that it was not her fault, that she did nothing wrong, that she was not bad. We told her that the only people who should look at her parts are me, my wife and a doctor when she gets an examination. We told her that that is why they are called “private parts”; you keep them private. She was upset and kept saying she didn’t want to talk about it anymore so we let it drop for the night with a last reassurance of how much we loved her and that she did nothing wrong and how proud of her we were that she told us.

My wife went to our neighbor’s house and told our friend what had happened. They confronted “Tommy” and he admitted to everything. Of course he had no explanation as to why he did it. We (including his mother) told him he is no longer allowed into our house and our daughter can not come into their house.

I’m a wreck. While we’re horrified and sickened that this happened to our precious little girl, we’re relieved that it was not as bad as it could have been and that it was discovered early. We’ve made an appointment with a child psychiatrist we know to help her. The psychiatrist has suggested we contact DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) to anonymously report this. Our neighbors were good friends but this is going to destroy it. The son was my son’s best friend. When our son comes back from camp and finds out, he’s going to want to kill the kid. (I don’t blame him. If the kid was 18, I’d go after him).

I’m looking for help on what to do next. I could legitimately call DCFS to report this which could result in him being taken away. We could call the cops and press charges. If he was over 18 he would have to register as a sexual offender. As a 14 year old, I don’t know what would happen.

Most importantly, though, is what will happen to my daughter. I’m hoping and praying that she will be OK but I need reassurance. Out of the countless people on these boards, I am sure there a few who have dealt with similar situations. Please tell me that she will be OK.

Thank you all for your help, advice and suggestions.

I wish I could tell you this won’t have a long lasting effect on your daughter, but I can’t say that. I think it would be appropriate to have her talk to a professional. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, but you certainly don’t want her to have unhealthy feelings about herself that will haunt her the rest of her life.

As far as what to do about the boy… I think you have to immediately report him to the authorities. If you don’t, there is no guarantee he won’t prey on some other hapless child. If that means he goes into the juvenile justice system then so be it. I think this kind of behavior has to be stopped as soon as it is discovered. Nobody should get a free pass. If they boy’s parents no longer speak to you I think that’s a small price to pay.

Maybe try to convince Tommy’s parents beforehand that they ought to be glad to get him help, whether it be some kind of counseling and restriction of movement, or whether it be a trip through the justice system.

But if the parents aren’t convinced, IMO, that’s too bad for them. If they won’t get him help, you need to take action. IMO.


Wow. I have no experience with this kind of situation, but it sounds to me as if you and your wife have taken all the appropriate steps and are handling this as well as could be hoped for.

How did your neighbors handle it when you talked with them? What did they say they would do about their son? I think it’s important to know to what extent his family is willing to step in, or if they’re acting as a shield to him.

I don’t know if this matters or not, but it seems to me that a call to DCFS would not be anonymous to your neighbors. They know this event happened, they know who it happened to, and if DCFS shows up, they’ll know why.

I just want to extend my sympathy to you, your daughter and the rest of your family. I haven’t been in this situation, but you did the right thing by immediately speaking with the boy’s family and confronting him about it, and by trying to reassure and comfort your daughter. My guess is that over the long term, your daughter will be fine, but it sure doesn’t hurt to bring a therapist into the situation for the time being.

As far as reporting the boy, I think you should do so. Fourteen is certainly old enough for him to know that he did something seriously wrong. DSS won’t take him away from his family just for this. I don’t know what exactly they do, but they’ll probably visit the family to see what’s going on over there. I also think it’s important that this be on record somewhere in case the boy turns into some kind of repeat offender.

Good luck.

Mods… probably want to move this over to IMHO…

First of all, be very grateful that you found out early what was going on. Obviously, “Tommy” was gradually escalating his inappropriate behavior, and who knows where or if it would have stopped.

Second of all, “Tommy” has in all likelihood prey on other children. He needs to be stopped. If you found out tomorrow that the little girl down the street had the same experience, her parents found out and they did not report it, how would you feel? Sexual abuse of children florishes in secret and needs to be reported in order to be stopped.

I’m really sorry for what you all are going through and hope your daughter (and you and your wife) will be all right.

I agree the boy should be reported, but what concerns me is that any authority that gets involved may want to interview your daughter. No matter how good they may be, this is something you probably would want to avoid.

Perhaps the psychiatrist would know what would be involved in any investigation. In any case, maybe you should ask him/her what would be the best thing to do.

Lord, lord. I’m so sorry this has happened. I don’t know how anyone who isn’t in your particular situation can possibly judge what’s best for you to do. It would be easy to say that you should immediately report this boy to the authorities, but obviously, you want to consider how giving a statement to police and possibly testifying would affect your daughter. I hope you consider getting counseling for *everyone *in the family. I’m particularly thinking of your son, who will be losing his friend and no doubt be consumed with rage for which he has no outlet.

One thought in reading your post was to offer to get your daughter all new undies if she wants, and let her throw away or even burn (under supervision) the ones that Tommy touched or saw… but I wouldn’t do that without checking it out with the psychiatrist. Maybe after a bit of counseling. That might be a bit advanced for a 5-year-old, but I thought I’d put it out there.

Best of luck.

Definitely report this to the proper authorities. It is entirely possible that this kid is being/ has been abused himself. I hesitate to mention it, but your son may have been involved also, if he’s the kids best friend.

I second the idea of offering her all-new underwear.

I third it!

And if you haven’t mentioned it to your daughter before, tell her it’s called “underwear” because it’s worn under your clothes, and it’s not suppose to be shown to anyone outside the family. Obviously Tommy used “show me your underwear” as a starting point.

Thank you all for your help. I just spoke with my wife. She said that our friend came over and talked with our daughter. She apologized for what Tommy did, said she was so sorry that it had happened and that Tommy was the one in trouble, not her. My daughter was upset but did talk about it a little until she finally said she didn’t want to talk anymore.

Our friend said that she called the local county mental health department to see who Tommy should talk to and what would happen next. They gave her the name of someone and set up an appointment. They also said that, by law, they have to report this to DCFS so that part of the equation is being handled. If they decide that they want to talk to our daughter, the therapist will be present (and us if possible).

I thought about whether my son could have been involved, but you’d have to know him to realize that it would be the last thing he would do. She may drive him up a wall on a regular basis, but he is fiercely protective of her (we have had 6 second trimester losses after fertility treatments and our daughter is adopted). If a kid is giving her a hard time, he gets right in their face. He even told off my mother-in-law when he thought she was being unfairly harsh! Also, he is an incredible prude. He accidentally walked into the bathroom while my daughter was on the toilet and he started shrieking, “Oh God! Would you learn to shut the bathroom door!!!” He’s even yelled at her if she walks around without a t-shirt on.

Moved to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

I am so sorry that your daughter was molested this way. I realize that “molest” is a strong word, but this also happened to me when I was 6.

The only thing that matters right now is your daughter. She needs to feel protected and loved but also think about what you will tell her 10 years or so from now when she’s grown up enough to fully understand how wrong this is. (It’ll take a while to fully process.) If she was my daughter, I would want to be able to tell her that I had done everything within reason to make sure this guy would never hurt her or anyone else again.

I’m not talking lynch mobs or the Six O’clock News here. But **definitely ** report it. This is far more important than a neighborhood friendship.

Please email me if I can help you talk about this. (Just put SDMB in the subject to get past the filters.)

Thanks. I wasn’t sure where to put this originally because I was asking for advice. I’m new to all of this stuff. Appreciate your help.

It sounds like your neighbors are acting very responsibly, I hope that you can remain friends.
As to dealing w/ your daughter, if it were me I would let this situation calm down and pay close attention to her behavior. It may be necessary to get professional help, but there is also the danger of overreacting and further traumatizing the child by impressing on her that this is a much bigger deal than it really is. Children are very resiliant and she’ll probably get past this. If she continues to exhibit behavior related to the incident after several weeks, it’s probably time to get outside help.
I think it’s also important that your son understand the danger of exacerbating the situation by overreacting upon his return. The offender admitted his actions, his parents are taking it very seriously and hopefully it will end up as a life lesson learned.
Sounds like everyone is acting appropriately up to this point.

I just want to commend you for taking action and protecting your daughter. I know that should go without saying, but it doesn’t always. A good friend of mine was molested by her father. I’m not saying the base issues aren’t bad, but I think it’s been worse for her that, once her mother knew about it, NOTHING HAPPENED. She felt like no one cared enough to protect her.

No matter how this all shakes down, your daughter will always know that you love her and want to protect her. That’s worth a heck of a lot.

I am so sorry something this awful happened to your little girl and your family. All new underwear is a great idea. At least the parents of the teenaged pervert are taking this seriously and not trying to shield him from the responsibility for what he has done.