“Coco McAtee, I thank the stars everyday that we had that conversation and I decided to have you come and talk with my Girl Scouts. That is one of the best things I think I ever did for those girls..."

Coco McAtee LSCSW
Family Life Educator | Speaker | Facilitator


Telling the Truth About Bodies


Penn State Lion

July 25, 2012

Destruction by Fear
Penn State is dealing with monetary and status concerns given the NCAA’s ruling recently. The Joe Paterno statue is coming down. A school with a billion dollar sports endowment is fined $60 million. Like many ask, what is the cost of destruction to the youngsters’ lives? Can anyone put a monetary value on trust, safety, security, valuing and protection for one’s body, mind and soul? Most of us know those are priceless. Yet, I am pretty sure our own personal history of sexual development prevents us from really respecting those needs and safeguarding them.

If the statistics are accurate, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused in their growing years. Abuse is on a continuum: being looked at/spied upon while dressing/ undressing/ showering; being exposed to pornography; others showing their body to you unsolicited; unwanted fondling/groping; sodomy/rape. For most who experience these, unless encouraged and taught to report, there is so much confusion, shame, fear and uncertainty that reports don’t occur. The conspiracy of silence continues. Threats may have been made. Promises made.

I asked my own boys if anyone had ever done, said, tried in any way to sexually involve them. One was stunned almost and said, “After all I have learned, I would tell you right away. No. No one has.”

Frequently when I speak to groups, parents, teachers, early childhood professionals, I share that as adults we must open up the topic of bodies & boundaries. We can be co-conspirators in this perpetuation when we remain silent. Just Say No is not enough. Skills and reminders are necessary. We would no more toss our child in a pool without swimming lessons and yet we send them into the world, a very over-sexualized world, and expect them to be immune to music, magazines, movies and classmates. We also assume our kid would not be a perpetrator of anything, only that they might be a victim.

Take a class. Read David Finklehor and Jan Hindman’s work on prevention and education. Step up and speak up so your kids will know it is ok to as well.