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Is "sexual grooming" a form of emotional or psychological abuse?

Bend, OR |

is a grown man showering with and "playing games" while naked with his son sexual abuse? Even if there was no physical contact, is it emotional abuse? son is 11years old and it didn't start until a couple of years ago.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    This is something that needs to be reported immediately to your local DHS (the "Department of Human Services") Child Welfare Office. Reports can be made anonymously and they will very likely investigate based on what you have posted. Unless the child has some sort of developmental disability or these showers are occurring at some place like a public pool, it does not seem like there is any reason that a grown man to shower with an 11-year old boy. The "playing games" while naked sounds even more disturbing.

    If you are the boy's other parent, you should also consider going to the court to seek emergency custody based on an immediate danger to the child, ideally before the boy spends any more time with his father. To do this, you would also need to seek a modification of custody/parenting time (or seek a divorce, separation, or for custody parenting time to be determined if there is no court-ordered parenting time plan at this time). I suggest consulting with a family law attorney ASAP.

    My responses to posts on AVVO are not legal advice, nor do they create an attorney-client relationship. In order to provide true (and reliable) legal advice, an attorney must be able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather the appropriate information. In order for an attorney-client relationship to exist, you and I both have to agree the the terms of such an agreement.


  2. I would think so, yes. Report it to the police the instant you see or learn of such conduct.


  3. I'm actually going to disagree with the other attorneys on this one. The behavior you describe is certainly suggestive of larger problems, and especially troubling if it comes from someone with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior or contact with children. But - assuming that there is no physical contact - it does not fit the definition of any kind of child abuse.

    Mind you, I don't think DHS would see it that way. Child Protective Services would almost certainly take a keen interest, and might even be moved to try to keep the parent and child apart. But the thing to remember is that DHS's institutional culture reflects our society's larger dominant current paradigm for parenting issues. Our current culture is intensely puritanical about sexuality, especially anything that approaches sexuality around children. DHS child case workers, and the field of child care and mental health generally, have a strong set of implicit cultural values that undergird everything they do, with a specific conception of what constitutes Good or Bad Parenting. This culture is sort of feminized, sanitized, sex-negative, heteronormative, at once liberal in the sense that it adopts the concerns of feminism and yet conservative in that it imagines a very specific, and rather old-fashioned, concept of the acceptable family. Once someone is accused of wrongdoing by this regime, it is incredibly hard for them to clear their name. But that doesn't mean that everything we think might be abuse, really is damaging to children.

    In this case, I simply don't have enough information to say whether this child is in danger. On the one hand, in places like pools and locker rooms, adults and children might shower together all the time. We don't know what you mean by "playing games" here. On the other hand, if they're doing this in private, or if there actually is physical contact, then yes, that's starting to sound like molestation and immediate action should be taken. In either case, of course, this father is a fool for doing this. The mere suggestion of sexual impropriety with children is enough to ruin someone's life. You might be able to get a custody change on that basis alone. It's not clear from the question who has custody of the child, or what the parenting time arrangement is. You should consult with an attorney in private to deal with this.

    Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br> Jay Bodzin, Northwest Law Office, 2075 SW First Avenue, Suite 2J, Portland, OR 97201 | Telephone: 503-227-0965 | Facsimile: 503-345-0926 | Email: jay@northwestlawoffice.com | Online: www.northwestlawoffice.com

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