My neighbor’s son acted sexually inappropriately with his sister and my son.

Dear Stop It Now!, 

I caught the 8 year old neighbor boy trying to get my 8 year old son to perform sexual acts on him. After catching the boys messing around in the garage, I questioned my son. I thought it was going to be a simple "show me yours - I'll show you mine" situation. My son shocked me by admitting that this boy keeps trying to put his hands in his pants.  My son said that this boy tries to get my son to "kiss his wienie".  He also shut my son in his bedroom and tried to make him get naked. My son also admitted to me that the boy got his little sister naked and tried getting him to do "things" with them.  I do not know where to turn. I am so lost and sick.

Dear Concerned Parent, 

I can well imagine how distressing this must be for you. I’m glad that you immediately followed up with your son, asked the right questions and was able to support your son when he told you about this neighbor’s behavior.  Your son must feel very safe with you, and I imagine that he is very relieved to have you know.

Talking with another child's parents

If your child had broken a rule or engaged in dangerous behavior while at a neighbor’s house, you would most likely want that neighbor to inform you as soon as possible about the behavior. Sexual behaviors are no different. When an adult has information about a child’s problematic sexual behaviors, informing that child’s parents is the first step in getting that child help and in protecting all children involved.

So, it is strongly recommended that you inform this neighbor child’s parents about what you witnessed and what your son has disclosed. Your conversation can focus on help in keeping all the children safe and responding to warning signs. There is also the additional question about where this boy’s behaviors originated and a possible question of abuse in his own life. You may want to read a page from our Online Help Center on preparing for complex conversations as you think about having this conversation.

There is the added concern that your son disclosed this 8 year olds boy’s attempt to abuse his younger sister, and possibly abuse has already occurred. This would be another strong reason to speak with this boy’s parents as soon as possible. Additionally, you may want to consider reporting your son’s report to your local child protection authorities.

Talking to child protection authorities

I realize that this is a potentially scary step and can complicate the relationship with these neighbors. However, a child’s safety really is a concern and the local professionals who deal with reports of a child at risk to be harmed can best assess the situation and make recommendations to the family about how to help their children. And if there is abuse in this neighbor’s life, having child protective authorities look into it may help protect all the children involved even more.

It is important for you to consider whether you have any concerns regarding the parents of the child next door. If for any reason you feel that talking to them may not be the safest step to take, then please listen to your own internal instinct and in that case, you may want to refrain from talking with them and instead just consider the report to the local child protection authorities. But please, know that the only way to get this child the attention he needs and to protect other children is to speak up.

Please read our information on Filing reports to help further support you. To report suspected abuse, you can contact either ChildHelp (1.800.422.4453) or your local child protection reporting agency.

Safety Planning

It is very important that a safety plan be implemented to help protect all the children. All adults involved should be aware of the safety plan and it should include strict supervision whenever the boys are together. They should never be left alone. Our prevention tool, Create a family safety plan will help you further design a safety plan for your family.

Again, I recognize how scary this might seem but I want to assure you that you have done the right thing but seeking out support and guidance. Your son is lucky to have a protective mom and again, I think it shows how safe he feels in that he was able to tell you what has been going on. If you are concerned that he needs help and support from this experience, please contact us again to talk about professional supports.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: August 23rd, 2012