Child exposed to porn at playdate - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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hello,

 

i am sorry that this is so long, but i really, really need advice.

 

last year, DD (then age 6) was asked by the school to attend play dates with a new student (age 6) in her class to be a "buddy" to this child and help her adjust to her new school.  DD and i went together for the first play date, but during the second two, the classmate's mother picked the children up from school and i arrived an hour later after getting off of work to pick DD up.  after the second play date, DD said she never wanted to go over there again.  i was very alarmed, asked her why and she said she didn't like the way the child played but that was it.  i also asked the child's mother if something happened and she said, no.  i felt in my gut that something had happened, so we refused all future invitations for play dates, and i took steps to limit DD's contact with this child moving forward.  from time to time, i would ask DD about her experience there and she said nothing.

 

a lot of other unsettling things happened with this classmate during the balance of the school year, and i am not going to get into all that, but DD experienced significant emotional trauma resulting from her connection with this child.  her self esteem disappeared and she started having recurring nightmares and other anxious behaviors.  i spoke to her teachers who told me it was probably developmental and even turned the blame on me for being too concerned about her.

 

we have since changed schools and introduced DD to therapy to help sort through her feelings.  things initially got worse, but have been gradually getting better since we are very focused on helping her heal and she has been removed from the unsafe environment she was in at her former school.  

 

DD recently revealed in therapy that during both play dates at the other child's home when i arrived an hour later to pick her up, the child brought pornographic magazines hidden in a stack of children's magazines into her bedroom, closed the door and showed them to DD.  she also brought torn out pages from the magazine to school and showed them to DD during a school field trip.  i nearly vomited upon hearing this.

 

my first question for DD was why didn't she tell DH and me what happened right away?  DD explained that the child told her that if she told anyone about it she would get in really big trouble so she was afraid to say anything to me.  DD also told me that she was so "freaked out" by what she saw, she didn't even know how to talk about it.  the therapist said this is a very common response when a child experiences trauma of this nature. 

 

the therapist advised us to speak to an attorney.  the attorney advised that this was actionable, but we could be subject to a defamation suit by the child's parents if we were to report the incident to our former school.  even though we have truth as a defense, since a year has passed, they could deny it ever happened, and DD would be subject to questioning and evaluation by outside counsel and therapists, and did we want to put her through that sort of agonizing process?  we also don't have money to pay attorney fees, and this child's family is very well-to-do.  another friend whose husband is a police officer said we should press charges.  it's all making my head spin.

 

after much debate, DH and i decided to just put it all behind us, wagon circle around DD and focus on helping her recover her sense of security and self-esteem.

 

even so, i cannot shake the feeling that i should tell someone at our former school what happened.  it was a private school where we all took care of each other's children willingly and with the faith that our children would be safe in each other's homes.  they were the ones who asked us to befriend this new student.

 

i have learned a major lesson here, unfortunately at my beautiful baby's expense, and i feel so terrible about that.  i don't know if i will ever forgive myself.  now i just want to do what's right by her at this point and focus on her healing--not subject her to any more pain.

 

what would you do if you were in my shoes?

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#2 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 12:57 PM
 
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Wow. First off I am so sorry this happened to your daughter and your family. Good for you for seeking out help and supporting your daughter with this. I personally would report the abuse your daughters' classmate is going through to the police. it is clearly more then "just playing doctor" or "a stage" she is going through. How terrible!


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#3 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 01:03 PM
 
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Totally just my opinion, but I would informally tell someone at the old school.  No need to make a formal complaint, but maybe mention to another parent?  Or even her former teacher, just as in, "hey, remember how we left because we were worried.  Guess what we learned in therapy..." 

 

I don't know if that would open you up to legal recourse, but I find it hard to imagine a private, unofficial conversation like that could be actionable.  Maybe ask your lawyer, but I do feel that, ethically, you need to let the school know to help protect other kids.  I say that only because I have to assume that the parents knew what was happening, especially if the child is tearing out pages and bringing them to school.  That kind of behavior sends up a million red flags and I wouldn't trust those parents around any child.

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#4 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 01:33 PM
 
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I wouldn't talk to another parent.  Tell whoever set up the play date and let them deal with it.  For one thing, they need to know how REALLY REALLY inappropriate it is to pressure parents into  making play dates outside of school with people they don't know very well.  If you tell another parent and they (will!) tell another parent, then there's a lot of room for that story to change, become mean gossip, and come back on you.  Just the social fall out is likely to be stressful for you and your family.

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#5 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 05:46 PM
 
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I agree that the school needs to know. If you were still enrolled, it would be easier to have a meeting with the principal, teacher and the parents of the child. At this point, I would at least tell the principal and whoever else needs to know. For whoever was downplaying your concerns, definitely let them know too.

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#6 of 13 Old 12-05-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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I think continuing with therapy and putting it behind you is a good idea. If you were still in contact with the mom I'd let her know that her kid is getting into her porn though. I can see how this would be traumatizing for your dd but the other child is very young too. It sounds like she got ahold of a stack of old magazines since there were kid ones mixed in so her parents may have no idea. The therapist is a mandatory reporter and if she didn't think it was reportable I doubt that you'd get anything but a lawyers fee if you pursued it further.
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#7 of 13 Old 12-06-2013, 06:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for taking the time to respond. I appreciate hearing the different perspectives since I haven't bounced this off of many people given the sensitivity of the situation.

Even just telling one person can trigger a defamation claim. Though I have truth on my side, I could still be forced to deal with defending myself and putting DD through the wringer--something I want to avoid at all costs. She has been through enough, and we are seeing progress with her fears. When we started at her new school, she was afraid to go to new friend's houses to play even if I was there. That is getting better and she is relaxing a bit which is a blessing.

Our therapist is not a mandatory reporter since she does not operate under an MFT license. She has a master's in psychology, but works as an alternative therapist/healer/homeopath, specializing in children. She did say if she were working under a license, she would be obligated to report.

The fact that a police officer said he would press charges retriggered my concerns. It's all so confusing.

I am not in contact with the child's mother and do not feel comfortable communicating with her at this point.

I am still not sure what to do, but if I do decide to say something, it will be to the new head of school, and only to keep other children from being exposed.

Thank you and bless you all.
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#8 of 13 Old 12-12-2013, 05:54 AM
 
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If I were in your situation, I would tell the head of the school.  It is the right thing to do.  That young child has been exposed to sexual things even if it is just the book.  She needs help.  She will most definitely do this to other children and expose them.  As a parent, it is our responsibility to protect other children as well.  Yes, you need to protect your daughter but many other children will probably be put in situations as your daughter was.  In my opinion, it is just the right thing to do to alert someone.  I wouldn't tell another parent because that seems gossipy to me.  I know if I were the parent of the child showing the pictures, I would be more upset if other parents were talking about it than if the school contacted me and dealt with it in a professional manner.  It is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with in a serious way.  Not just through a parent.

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#9 of 13 Old 12-12-2013, 07:49 PM
 
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Both children need help. There is a good chance the child is being abused and continuing the abuse. I'd write the parents and school a short letter detailing exactly this. 

 

They need to know.

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#10 of 13 Old 12-12-2013, 07:49 PM
 
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And I am really sorry about DD

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#11 of 13 Old 12-12-2013, 08:42 PM
 
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Would it be a possibility to contact the former principal and make an annonymus report?
I really feel it is uber important to let someone know who can step in, in some way to protect that child, and prevent future situations of the like.

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#12 of 13 Old 12-18-2013, 11:32 AM
 
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You could report the family to the department of child services anonymously and there are no risks of a defamation suit then. I would contact someone at the school who you know personally so that someone can be on the lookout for other alarming behaviors, since your call may not be enough for DCS to investigate. Defamation suits are only an issue if you are spreading untrue information. They could try to sue you, but wouldn't have a chance of winning unless it could be proven that you were spreading information that you know to be untrue. 

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#13 of 13 Old 12-18-2013, 01:26 PM
 
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I agree with contacting social services with the information you have now. That's the best way to help the child, as well as to protect yourself legally from defamation suits. If you do contact the "person who encouraged you to set up the playdates" I'm not sure I'd mention the specifics of the abuse, as that could potentially set off gossip/defamation suit. But letting him or her know that your child had a negative experience and that the playdates were inapropriate, that might be useful information. I'm still not sure that's a good idea or not.

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