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Peer abuse between 8 year olds #488842
01/28/09 07:02 PM
01/28/09 07:02 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
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althearose Offline OP
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althearose  Offline OP
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I am new here, and I am turning to this forum because I need help, ideas and opinions on a situation involving my 8 yera old daughter. Last night she came to me, telling me about a "sex game" that she played last week during a sleepover with a friend, another 8 year old girl. It is my opinion that the event was in fact, abuse, and not a game. The reason I believe it was abuse is that the other girl used coercion and fear tactics to get my daughter to play, telling her if she didn't play she would tell her mother that it was my daughter's idea. My daughter went along with it, and I realize one of the issues is that she needs to be able to say NO to her peers and this is an issue that we need to work on. The mother of the other girl is a very good friend of mine, and I am sure this is the end of the friendship, because mothers always stand by their kids, no matter what. When I learned of the event, I called her mother, but I talked to the daughter and told her I knew of the "game" and she could either tell her mother or let me tell her. I didn't give any warning to the mother, so understandably, she is upset with me for not giving her the heads up, but so be it. If these kids want to play adult games, then I will treat them like adults. Plus, I didn't want to get in the way of the girl talking to her mother on her own. Today my daughter is home from school. The girl is a classmate in a small school and my daughter is afraid she'll be mad at her. Again, it is apparent that we have a self-image to build and I must do whatever I can to empower my daughter to stand up for herself. We are headed to the library and bookstore today to get some titles I picked out online when I couldn't sleep at all last night. I have many dilemmas with this situation, and my number one priority is to take care of my daughter emotionally, but I feel a little trapped with my options. If I tell the school, my physician or a therapist, they are mandated to report the abuse. I really don't want to go there. I have not talked to my friend and think I am going to let her deal with this issue as she sees fit in her own household. It is my experience that she will not believe her daughter is capable of this kind of intimidation or sexual deviance and will take the stance that it was all innocent exploration. I will come across as blowing it all out of proportion and it will get ugly. As far as school goes, my initial reaction is to pull my daughter out for awhile and homeschool, giving her the opportunity to explore these issues of self esteem with me for the next few months, but I know that is a mother's protective reaction and may not be in the best interest of my child. This is real life, and there are major lessons to be learned here, ones that cannot be learned in a bubble. So, I am inclined to give my daughter today off as well as a few more days should she need it and then get her back into her routine. I will be prohibiting her to play with her classmate though at recess, as there has already been a lot of manipulation on the playground and in class. I think I can safely manage to keep them apart for the time being. I am very interested in your thoughts on this matter, as I am reluctant to seek outside help right now, for reasons stated. Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any insights you might be able to share.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: althearose] #488860
01/28/09 07:38 PM
01/28/09 07:38 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 7,187
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Chelle - Marriage Editor Offline
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Chelle - Marriage Editor  Offline
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Lake Lanier, Georgia
I am only going to say one thing negative - you should have talked to the mother, not the child. It was a completely uneven conversation between an adult and an 8 yr old girl. I realize you considered it an adult game - but she is still just a child, and she learned this game and behavior from somewhere.

In all probability this child has experienced some abuse somewhere herself. Children (especially girls) do not just come up with this behavior by themselves.

Keeping your daughter home from school may not be the best thing. You might wish to talk with the school counselor about what happened. She (or he) can point you in the direction you should go as to getting help for yoiur daughter.

She is going to be scared of losing her friend, and other friends. Changing schools might become a necessity, but don't automatically assume that it is. Let your daughter go back to her own school first and see if there are any problems.

I understand why you don't want the abuse reported, but you may be helping more than one child in this situation. And your daughter is going to need more help than you are going to know how to give. You know how to love and support her, but the other parts are not so natural.

I am speaking from some experience. This past summer I found ou my daughter had been sexually abused. I was terrified, ashamed (of not seeing it), and felt completely lost as to what to do. The fact that we got my daughter help immediately meant that even though it was investigated by DFCS, she was not taken from us (which is always a fear in the back of parents' heads)

A day off from school is not a bad idea, but do not let it become a habit, or else she will try to hide from confrontation. When children are not able to express their anger and feelings outwardly, it can turn inward - not eating, becoming sick, destroying things, etc.

Please seek some counseling for your daughter, and some for yourself as well. You will need to be strong for her - and you will need to have a place to let out your own anger that is not against another child.

My prayers are with you.


Michelle Taylor
Marriage Editor
Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: Chelle - Marriage Editor] #489652
01/31/09 12:29 AM
01/31/09 12:29 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
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althearose Offline OP
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althearose  Offline OP
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Thanks for your input. This is a work in progress.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: althearose] #489662
01/31/09 01:07 AM
01/31/09 01:07 AM
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Lori-Marriage Offline
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Great advice, Michelle.

As a former elementary school teacher, I can tell you this: You're right, althearose. If you tell the teacher, she is a mandated reporter. She will report this to the principal. However, this could be a good thing for several reasons:

1. It will protect your child from false accusations from this other child. This girl and her mother could go to the authorities with their side of the story. You will be more credible if you step forward first. A sensitive teacher and school psych will know if it was innocent exploration. But the coercion signals something more.
2. It will flag the offending girl as a possible abuse victim herself. You may be helping her. A sex "game?" Someone taught her this, no doubt. Kids are curious ("I'll show you mine, if you show me yours") but they don't venture too far unless they were shown what to do.
3. You will be referred to resources who can help deal with this.

If you say you're concerned more for your daughter than you shouldn't be concerned about your friendship. However, you should talk to her and give her a chance to protect her own daughter from abuse. It might seem like it will open a can of worms, but that's what abusers count on: Everyone's fear of coming out with this!

If you end up moving, you end up moving. But this isn't only about your daughter now, it's about hers too. She needs someone to step forward and blow the whistle. Even if she isn't being abused (it is more likely she has been), then she at least needs counseling.

It's hard to step forward. But do the right thing. Just a warning: If in the future, the girl does this to another child and it comes out that it happened to your daughter and you knew but did nothing...you could be held liable. It's not a scare tactic, I promise. It's just what I have witnessed.

Good luck and keep in touch.



Lori Chidori Phillips
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Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: Lori-Marriage] #489795
01/31/09 03:58 PM
01/31/09 03:58 PM
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althearose Offline OP
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althearose  Offline OP
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I live in a very small town and the school my daughter attends is very small also. There is no other school for her to attend and the other 3rd grade class is right next door with an open door between the two. I am a homeowner so I am not moving and I cannot move her to another school as there are no other schools in the area. I do not want to report this incident, I do not want my daughter to have to go through the event again. She was out of school for only the one day and went back the next day and did great. She has shown strength and a healthy attitude in this situation and I am proud of her for this. I am about 98% certain the family will not go to the authorities with their side of the story, not unless I contact the authorities first. I told the mother in my first email correspondence with her that I did not want to go to the school, my doctor, or a therapist because of the mandatory reporting, but I think she still believes that this was nothing more than innocent play. I am concerned for the other girl, it is clear that she has suffered some abuse in the past, but my only priority is the health and well being of my daughter, and dragging her through the event again will not help her one bit. The authorities can try to hold me liable if it gets to that point, but ultimately, the only one liable is the mother of the girl. I have told her that what happened was NOT a case of innocent curiosity, but I was not going to get into details until there were details from her daughter to get into. There is not way I am letting the burden fall on my child, the victim. They know I feel that this was more than what their daughter stated, they know I feel it is more than innocent play and it is really up to them to decide how to proceed getting help for their daughter, or not. I am helping my daughter in every way I know now, and she is doing very well. There are many issues here and sexual abuse is not the biggest lesson for her to learn, although we have had to explore this issue as well. The biggest lesson for my daughter to learn is how to say no to her friends, how to stand up for herself and how to know when something is right or wrong. This was ultimately a form of bullying, friendship bullying, and that is what we are focusing on.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: althearose] #490351
02/02/09 05:43 PM
02/02/09 05:43 PM
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I understand your point.


Lori Chidori Phillips
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@BellaMarriage
Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: Lori-Marriage] #490500
02/03/09 03:09 AM
02/03/09 03:09 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
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althearose Offline OP
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althearose  Offline OP
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I appreciate all the input, you all have been very helpful.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: althearose] #490885
02/04/09 05:26 AM
02/04/09 05:26 AM
Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 576
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Kelli Deister Offline
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althearose, I do agree with Michelle on this. The other girl had to have learned that behavior from someone else, which raises the question that she may very well be enduring some form of sexual abuse. On some level, now that you are aware of what happened, you have the ball in your court, and can report the incident, to not only help your daughter, but the other girl as well. Even though the mother of the other girl believes that it is innocent play, it is not. And sometimes, it is easier for us as a society in general, to not want to report it for many reasons, most pertaining to some kind of fear. I am certain that if you were to report it, the blame would not fall on you. It would fall upon the mother of the other girl because it happened in her home. This is not to say that I am for any kind of blame on anyone. This is not about blame, but if that is one of your fears, you should rest at ease knowing that it will most likely be decided that it is not your fault, nor is it your daughter's fault.

I encourage you to take your daughter to therapy, since they can do play therapy with the child. Therapists are also a neutral party and children find it much easier to talk to them. I believe that this is the best approach in helping your daughter get through this difficult and confusing time. I know that you are doing your very best to protect your child, it is obvious through your sharing of your thoughts.

One thing to consider, though, is that it may raise red flags on your daughter being absent and the school may want a reason for her being out of school. Also, if a professional, such as the school counselor, should find out about the incident, and you are questioned about it, they may wonder why you never reported the situation. I am not trying to place fear here, but am indeed attempting to show you what can happen on both ends of the spectrum here.

It is ultimately your decision on how to deal with this situation, but it is my hope that you will take the suggestions on this forum and possibly try to act on them.

Thank you for sharing so openly here and I hope that you continue to do so. There are many wonderfully caring people on this forum and some of them have experienced what you are now going through.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: Kelli Deister] #491840
02/07/09 03:59 PM
02/07/09 03:59 PM
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althearose Offline OP
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My daughter decided that she wanted to speak to a counselor and she has one at school that she is very comfortable with. It has been about 2 weeks now since the incident and even with open communication with me, she has still expressed that she'd like to talk with someone else. Not allowing her to do so would invalidate the experience for her and would dis-empower her, and I believe, would thwart her ability to make hard decisions in the future. No one likes social services to visit, but I came to realize it is not about me, it is all about my daughter's emotional health and well being. I had talked to the counselor at school earlier in the week about getting my daughter in to see someone about bullying issues at school, then yesterday, called her back and explained the real reason I'd like my daughter to see her. They met yesterday and the wheels are in motion. I am so relieved that my daughter will be getting the help she needs. I am really hoping that the other girl gets the help she needs as well. She is a good kid, and at age 8, she is young enough to get the help she needs to mature into a healthy young woman.

Re: Peer abuse between 8 year olds [Re: althearose] #491846
02/07/09 04:12 PM
02/07/09 04:12 PM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 7,187
Lake Lanier, Georgia
Chelle - Marriage Editor Offline
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Chimpanzee
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Lake Lanier, Georgia
I might be able to set your mind at ease a little here,

When we were so proactive in helping our daughter out - seeking out counseling on our own, social services felt that we were already handling it and saw no reason to come to the house. Our daughter's personal counselor called to talk with them and let them know she was in therapy, so they knew she was seeing a licensed counselor.

DFCS tend to be so overwhelmed with cases where the parents don't care, that if you are already helping your child - they will leave it in your hands for the most part.


Michelle Taylor
Marriage Editor
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