Avoiding childhood sexual assault: The conversation every parent, child should have

HOUSTON – A gut-wrenching case of child pornography allegedly involving 3,200 videos, some of them containing torture, is an all-too-real reminder of how important it is to talk to your children about child predators.

San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers told KPRC that three more local victims came forward Monday, bringing the potential number of child victims to 16.

Multiple agencies are also working on the case.

On Monday, Capers met with the FBI, which will assist with computer forensics.

The Harris County Internet Crimes Against Children Unit is assisting with telephone forensics. The attorney general's office is sending additional investigators to analyze computer data.

What to know about child predators

When it comes to childhood sexual assault, experts say it’s not about stranger danger. The majority of children know their abuser.

“The child has usually been sexually abused by somebody that they know and trust, somebody that may literally be the person that they feel should be protecting them from people who might harm them rather than harming them,” said Dr. Lawrence Thompson, the director of therapy and psychological services at The Children’s Assessment Center.

Who is vulnerable?

Both boys and girls are vulnerable, and the number of victims is higher than you might think.

Statistics show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer a sexual assault before they are 18.

Experts say children should be aware of anyone who makes them uncomfortable or touches them inappropriately.

According to The Children’s Assessment Center’s website, “Perpetrators report that they look for passive, quiet, troubled, lonely children from single-parent or broken homes. Perpetrators frequently seek out children who are particularly trusting.”

How do abusers keep children silent?

Experts say the abusers lure children into silence with the threat of physical violence or guilt.

“They may pull at their heartstrings and say, 'I care about you. Do you want anything bad to happen to me?'” Thompson said. “Nobody that cares about you and has your best interest at heart should be trying to get you to keep secrets from other people who care about you and have your best interest at heart. So, anytime you see that, it’s a red flag that something is wrong and it is a good idea to share that with your parent so that they can make sure you are safe.”

When should I talk to my child about this sensitive topic?

“Talk to them early,” Thompson said. “Not talking to them when they’re 13, talking to them when they’re 3 about their body and the parts of their body and body safety.”

Thompson said your child needs to feel comfortable talking with you and, if something does happen, they need to know they haven’t done anything wrong.

To report the sexual abuse of a child, you can call the hotline at 800-252-5400.

Anyone who has any information on the San Jacinto County child pornography case is asked to call the San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Office at 936-653-4367.

For more statistics and information on child sexual abuse, click here.

To learn more about free events at The Children’s Assessement Center, click here.