LSU psychologist has advice for parents talking to kids about alleged school rape

LSU psychologist has advice for parents talking to kids about alleged school rape

Some parents of students at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School said they plan to question their children about whether anyone has touched them inappropriately given the allegations of aggravated rape of a 7-year-old student. A local LSU psychologist said Tuesday that there are appropriate ways to make this difficult discussion easier.

"It's heartbreaking if it did occur," said school Principal Lakeysha London.

Police continue to investigate the claims that a substitute gym teacher raped the child on campus.

"It could be very traumatic for a child because they're at school thinking they can trust their teachers, thinking they can trust any adult that comes into a school building," said Michelle Moore, an LSU Health clinical psychologist.

Because the case remains under investigation with no arrest, Moore spoke in general about how a child who has been sexually assaulted might react.

"They may feel very confused when they're around adults because they don't know how to feel," she said. "They don't know if they should trust them, if they should be scared of them."

Moore said it's the type of confusion that could result in a child feeling anxious when back at school.

"They may have a hard time learning, may have a hard time thinking when they're at school because they're feeling on edge," Moore said.

Moore said certain behaviors may indicate that therapy is needed.

"If emotionally, all of sudden they seem to cry out of nowhere, they get very angry for seemingly no reason at all, then therapy may be warranted," she said.

Principal London sent the following voicemail to parents Tuesday evening:

"There is currently an investigation of an alleged assault to a student on campus. We are working closely with Orleans Parish School Board administration, as well as, the New Orleans Police Department. Please be assured that the safety of our students is top priority and the instructional program is proceeding as normal. If you have any questions, kindly contact the school."

But how should parents of students at the school speak to their children about the allegations, especially if they have heard rumors?

"Parents don't need to talk specifically about the events and what happened, because that's more adult language, that's going to be over a child's head," Moore said. "But you do talk to your child about how to stay safe and to keep that open communication with you."

Moore said kids need to know that they can speak up if being around certain people makes them feel uncomfortable.

"They get butterflies in their stomach and they don't feel very safe in that moment, [then they] should tell an adult," she said.

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