Parents, This Daughter Of A Therapist Shared How They Spoke About Sex, And It’s So Important

Warning: Discussions of child sexual abuse.

It's been a few weeks since Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV exposed the allegedly exploitative, toxic, and sexually abusive culture Nickelodeon's early-aughts child stars faced.

Closeup of Drake Bell

Amidst the conversation, Amelia Brock — a 33-year-old daughter of retired child sexual abuse therapist, Cleone Brock — shared on TikTok the importance of educating children about sex and body safety.

Closeup of Amelia Brock
@abetok / Via

Amelia began, "I am the daughter of a therapist for victims of child sexual abuse. And I want to tell you about all the things that my mom did when I was growing up to educate me and prevent me from being in a situation where I'd be sexually abused."

Cleone Brock and her daughter, Amelia

So, let's get into the five areas Amelia shared that we need to "tackle or disrupt" to be more effective in child sexual abuse prevention:

1. Access

Closeup of Amelia

Amelia said that thinking about when adults will have complete access to kids is essential, but she also admitted that this doesn't mean parents must restrict sleepovers completely.

Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock

@abetok / Via

She said, "Thinking about when adults will have, you know, increased or undue access to your child is absolutely a first step." However, "Was I allowed to go to sleepovers as a child? Yeah, I was. But that's because my mom took a lot of steps to make sure that I was educated." This leads to Amelia's next point...the knowledge gap.

2. Knowledge gap

Closeup of Amelia Brock

Amelia continued, "The way that my mom tackled this was from the time I was little, she had a picture book about sex that taught me about anatomy, about genitals, about what sex was. Obviously, it was age-appropriate; it was not graphic. And it was to teach me about what these things were."

Hand holding "What Makes a Baby" book by Cory Silverberg, illustrated by Fiona Smith, recommended for explaining baby origins

She continued, "But how is a child to know that? An adult is telling them to participate in this activity and forcing them to."

"So kids need to know what sex is, and that it's not appropriate for them to participate in it...that it's not appropriate for an adult to touch their body in certain ways, and it should never make them feel bad or ashamed. And that if it does, then that's something that needs to be told to mom or dad."

3. Disrupting silence

Closeup of Amelia Brock

"It always shocks me how many parents in passing will be like, 'Don't ever let anybody touch you. Tell me, right?' And it's like, what's the kid supposed to feel? You're, like, halfway yelling at them, right? That's not a conversation."

Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock

@abetok / Via

Amelia continued, "You need to be setting up a continuous and recurring space in which you're having open and honest conversations, answering questions, no anger, whatsoever. Like, totally, the child should know that they can say or ask anything, and that they will not be met with anger or fear. They will be met with truth, kindness, and care."

Amelia admitted, "If you do not set up that space with your child, [and] something happens to them like sexual abuse, why would they tell you about it? You haven't proven yourself to them as a trusted person in their life who's taking care of their emotional well-being."

"And until you prove that, then it's very unlikely that your child is going to confide in you in that way. So that is something that needs to be happening over and over again. And it needs to be proven through action, not just words. Not saying you can tell me anything; prove it to them."

4. Disrupting shame

Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock

@abetok / Via, @abetok

Amelia said the fourth thing she wants to see disrupted is shame, which can keep victims quiet. "There is so much shame, especially in American culture around sex. We are fundamentally a puritanical culture. And so child sexual abusers often use shame to compel children to stay silent. You need to disrupt that shame, [because abusers can] activate a kid's internalized sense of shame to keep them quiet."

She continued, "Part of that, too, in my conversations with my mom, was her taking me through exactly what would happen if I ever came to her and said, 'This has happened to me,' or, 'This adult made me feel uncomfortable,' or, 'This adult tried to touch me.'"

Woman and child sitting on a couch, the adult is gently touching the child's arm, comforting

Amelia said, "I knew that, you know, I knew in my core if something like that were to happen to me, my mom would respond to me with love and care because she had proven it."

Closeup of Amelia Brock
@abetok / Via

5. Compliance

Closeup of Amelia Brock

She said, "This is not putting the onus on the child to get out of a situation in which an adult is trying to harm them, but it is letting them know that they have inside feelings that can give their brain information about when they might be in a situation that is not good for them, or where harm may occur."

Animated characters from 'Inside Out' with Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear, and Sadness around a control console

She continued, "Teaching a kid that it's ok to listen to those feelings and not be compliant. And reiterating that in a situation where they might be being put in harm, it is okay and acceptable to kick, run, punch, leave the room, like whatever it takes."

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Amelia clarified, "Obviously, you know, have that conversation the way that's most appropriate with your child. But so much of what we tell kids is, 'Sit your ass in your seat and be good in school and pay attention to the adults and do everything they say.' That is a very, very harmful construct, unless you give nuance with your child."

Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock
Closeup of Amelia Brock

@abetok / Via

"The messaging they're hearing the entire time they're growing up is, 'Adults are God. Everything that they say, you must do. If you don't do what they say, you are bad. You are a bad child and you're behaving badly.'"

"So, [it's about] disrupting that [compliance] framework and letting a child know that they have agency, and especially that they have the agency to listen to what their body and their feelings are telling them, and to listen to this information that their parents have been telling them, and to leave situations that they don't feel comfortable with. To say, 'I want my mom.' To call mom. To bring a parent into it. That is all really, really important."

Watercolor painting of a human profile with various overlapping abstract shapes
Drafter123 / Getty Images

As for why she started sharing this in the first place, Amelia said Quiet on Set was a huge catalyst, but she wanted to hear more conversations about prevention, which she had direct experience with. Amelia told BuzzFeed, "On TikTok, I've seen so many brave personal accounts about enduring child sexual abuse. But I haven't seen many videos about how to educate your child and have preventative conversations."

Adult and child sitting together outdoors, seen from behind, engaging in a conversation

And that it did — since sharing her video, Amelia has received an outpour of support, with many commenters thankful to see someone speaking about this.

Social media comments displaying support and gratitude in a conversation

And if you're coming across this information for the first time, you might be wondering how even to begin these conversations with your kids. So, we spoke with Amelia and her mom, Cleone, to better understand how to broach these conversations.

Closeup of Amelia and Cleone Brock

Cleone began, "The first step really depends on your child's age. Ask questions to see what they already know. You don't have to start with a full anatomy lesson or explaining sex. Ask your child if they know what areas are private on a person's body. Ask if anyone has ever tried to touch their private areas, talked to them about those areas, asked to take photos, or has even made them feel uncomfortable on these topics."

Woman seated talking to a young child standing close by, indoors, facing each other

Cleone continued, "Teach your child about healthy secrets vs. unhealthy secrets — a surprise birthday party is a healthy secret that doesn't hurt anyone, and we feel good inside when we keep that secret. A friend telling them that someone has touched them inappropriately is not a healthy secret, and keeping that secret makes us feel bad inside. Underscore that telling a trusted adult about unhealthy secrets is important because it's the only way a bad situation can be stopped."

Two contrasting scenes; a joyful child sharing a gift and a silhouette of two people hinting secrecy
Getty Images

"The key here is creating a space where you and your child can have open dialogue, and they don't feel scared to talk to you, which is a common silencing tactic used by abusers. Ultimately, your child needs to know that you will always answer their questions truthfully, and they will never be in trouble for confiding in you," Cleone said.

Adult and child having a conversation, adult is crouching to be at eye level with the child
Kali9 / Getty Images

As for when to begin having these conversations with your children, Cleone said that around 3 or 4 years old, you can start teaching your child about body safety, but also take clues based on your child's questions. She said, "Young children need to know what is private about their own bodies and other people's bodies. This doesn't have to be a conversation about genitalia, yet; you can use photos of people in bathing suits to identify private areas."

Illustration of a family of four ready for the beach; two adults and two children, one holding a ball, the other a float ring

She continued, "Take clues from your child based on their questions about when they’re ready for more information. Some kids will be ready sooner than other kids."

Irina_strelnikova / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Amelia reiterated to BuzzFeed that her mom normalized these conversations by making them recurring and an open space for questions, which, as Cleone mentioned, would often guide what they would talk about. Amelia said, "Kids are very curious... I don’t remember thinking it was weird or scary to have these conversations, because it was normal at our house."

Woman and child lying on floor, smiling while writing in a notebook together
Fizkes / Getty Images

And while Amelia said these conversations didn't necessarily become more normalized with her peers, she said they did help her understand "dangerous secrets," and to always speak up if she ever heard of any sexual abuse.

Teacher kneels to speak with a young student in a school hallway, both are engaged in conversation

Cleone added that while Amelia summed up a lot of their early conversations in just a few minutes, she wants to remind people that those conversations happened over many years.

She said, "Our discussions were often guided by her questions, and I think the most important thing was answering honestly and making sure she felt comfortable discussing everything with me."

If you're looking for more resources on the topic, Cleone said the Child Advocacy Center is a great place to start. She also said the organization Darkness to Light has statistics about CSA that parents can learn from, like how often abuse happens, who's most likely to be an abuser, and when and where it's most common.

She added, "Also, it’s always a good idea to ask your local librarian about current books and resources. They’ll know what’s age and developmentally appropriate for your kids." Lastly, if you're concerned about a sexual abuse situation with a child, Cleone said, "Call your local Child Advocacy Center. They will help you assess and navigate the situation, including reporting and therapy."

Amelia had just one last thing to add: "I'm so grateful to my mom — for having these conversations with me, for being a wonderful parent, for helping so many children and truly seeing them when other people would rather look away, and for testifying against so many abusers over the years."

Cleone Brock, and a young Amelia
Amelia Brock

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here. If you are concerned that a child is experiencing or may be in danger of abuse, you can call or text the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 (4.A.CHILD); service can be provided in over 140 languages. 

Per Cleone's advice: You can also find your local Child Advocacy Center here, who can help you report the situation and find resources, including therapy.