Communication is key to preventing sexual assault - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Communication is key to preventing sexual assault


DUBUQUE (KWWL) - Teens tend to be the most vulnerable to sexual predators. Which means it's important to know how to communicate with your teenager. It's easy to say "this could never happen to my teenager" but experts say teenagers are especially vulnerable. And especially to the internet. But the first step towards not becoming a victim is communication.

We talked with prevention educator Tabithe Schemmel at the Riverview Center. They specialize in domestic violence and assault prevention and education. She says these issues are not easy to talk about, but it's important, especially given the popularity of the internet among teens.

The first thing you can do: ask questions. You should always know who your teen is talking to, both online and on the phone. Know what they are looking at online. Spending time on social network sights like Facebook is normal but its important to know what they're looking at. Next, make sure you're keeping communication lines open. Paying attention to what your teen says. Believe it or not, it could happen to anyone.

"Even though teenagers know that. But there is kinda this "it wouldn't happen to me" and unfortunately that's what kind of gets them in this tangled web," said Schemmel.

To give you an idea how important this conversation is, compare it to the safety rules you teach young children. It's as important as teaching someone to look both ways before crossing the street.

Something parents also need to be aware of: "sexting", sending racy, sometimes pornographic pictures to their friends via cell phone. Schemmel says its important to remind your teen that anything they send to a friend can be passed along to hundreds of people.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires


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