"NewsChannel 5 Investigates" asked Dawn Harper with the Nashville Children's Alliance to listen to the recording of the conversation between Gilbert and his mother. Here are her suggestions for how she believes parents should handle such difficult situations:
I hear a very concerned parent who believes something traumatic happened to her child. She appears to desperately want to find out exactly what happened to her son.
Children are vulnerable. Developmentally challenged children's vulnerability can increase because they are more dependent on adults for their daily care.
If a parent suspects their child has been abused, ask very few open-ended questions -- to verify the abuse occurred.
Never badger or coerce the child to talk to you.
Remind the child they are not in trouble and the abuse is not their fault.
Reassure the child it is OK if they are not ready to talk about the abuse.
If parents find themselves in similar situations, be patient.
Your child will talk about the abuse when he or she is ready.
In the meantime, leave the investigation to the trained professionals.
If your child does not disclose to the investigators, we strongly recommend counseling.
In counseling, they form a trusting relationship, in which the child may become comfortable enough to talk about the abuse.
Dawn Harper Child Protective Investigative Team Coordinator Nashville Children's Alliance Telephone: (615) 327-9958