Seeing the Signs: 

Listen to your instincts to protect children

by Judith Rodman
President & CEO

Last month, I watched the documentary series “Quiet On Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV,”  where child actors, parents and staff recall the toxic, abusive and manipulative behavior behind the scenes of some of the most famous Nickelodeon shows of the 1990s and early 2000s. 

I was shocked and terrified to learn what they’d been doing to children on set and on camera.

Nearly 30 years after the shows aired, people are finally speaking publicly about the abuse they faced. They shared stories of how people in power, people they felt they could trust, turned around to manipulate them and abuse them. 

As I continued watching, it just hit home about how this isn’t exclusive to the entertainment industry, it happens in our community. More than 90% of children know and trust their abuser, which, like what happened to many of these child actors, can allow abuse to continue for years without ever telling someone. 

Within four episodes, there were many recounts of how abusers not only manipulate children but also the people around them. Parents feel they can trust those in power and may ignore the instinct that something is wrong. 

This show brings to light the importance of adults using these instincts to actively try and prevent abuse. Parents — trust your gut. If you have something in the back of your mind telling you something isn’t right, listen to it. Steer on the side of caution. It’s better to be wrong and safe than to push those feelings aside when your child could be going through an incredibly traumatizing experience. 

The sadness that stems from hearing these stories of exploitation and abuse by people they felt they knew well needs to turn to action. 

Preventing abuse, like what was heartbreakingly seen many times throughout this series, comes from education. Not only for adults but for children too. Sunflower House is committed to education prevention for all ages. This allows adults to know how to prevent and respond, and for children to know how to recognize abuse and communicate it to those who can help. We offer free training to children and adults so they can learn skills to be able to detect, respond and let others know about abuse. 

As adults, it is imperative to take steps to learn and empower children to speak to us if they feel something has happened. We need to be comfortable with a conversation and set a tone of transparency when disclosing abuse. I encourage you to use the resources Sunflower House offers to the community to learn how to create an environment where children feel safe and heard when they disclose, and how to see the signs and prevent it before it happens.


About Judith Rodman

Judith (Judi) Rodman is the President and CEO of Sunflower House, the Child Advocacy Center serving Johnson and Wyandotte counties in Kansas. Ms. Rodman has more than 25 years experience in community mental health, family services, therapeutic intervention with children and families, and nonprofit leadership. Ms. Rodman has extensive nonprofit experience in program development and evaluation, staff leadership, and managing state, federal, and private grants.  Read More.

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