Support Play Groups are intended to serve families in which sexual abuse has occurred. This includes:
- direct victims of child sexual abuse (both male and female).
- siblings of victims of inter-familial sexual abuse.
- children of adult victims of sexual abuse.
Parent(s)/guardians and child(ren) attend play groups together. Although the time is not spent together, it is considered a family program. Parents (guardians) and children will explore similar issues within their own peer groups.
Play groups meet for weekly, one hour sessions for 8-10 weeks. Staff facilitators include one parent educator and one childhood educator with volunteer advocates to assist with the children. Dates and times vary throughout the year.
The focus of Support Play Groups is to educate and intervene upon some of the direct effects of victimization while decreasing feelings of isolation and alienation that children and their parents/guardians often experience as a result of sexual abuse. In addition, play groups are designed to provide healthy beliefs and attitudes regarding interpersonal/family interaction, and assist children in relearning appropriate boundaries with other children and adults.
Abused children are often deprived the opportunity to play in a free and spontaneous manner because of their abuse. Free play is a developmentally significant vehicle in the process of developing adult skills. Support Play Groups offer an abused child the opportunity to return to normal developmental tasks, intervening in the possible long term effects of child sexual abuse.
Children explore concepts such as: What makes a family?, empathy, trust, loss, personal safety skills, negotiating conflict, self-esteem, communication, and an awareness of feelings. Discussion topics are centered around age appropriate activities. Play is an essential part of the format. The children’s format is modified according to the age of the group.
It is also essential to work with the parents (guardians) of an abused child who may be experiencing difficulty in their role of raising said child. Parents explore a number of parenting topics, including:
- Understanding of childhood development – appropriate expectations.
- The importance of a parent’s role in facilitating children’s growth.
- Exploring healthy options to parental difficulties.
- Enabling parents to draw on their strengths and examine their weaknesses.
- Developing of an empathetic understanding of children’s needs.
- Understanding children’s PLAY and working towards a nurturing philosophy.
- Discussions of self esteem, communication, awareness of feelings, family rules, adult needs vs. parental role, development of trust, sexuality, and conflict.
If you have further questions about Support Play Groups or would like more information on registration procedures contact:
Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County
327 1st St S Suite 17
Virginia, MN 55792