Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Unlocking Your Awesomeness: Interview With Ginger Kadlec Part 1

Today’s interview is with the extraordinary Ginger Kadlec a child advocate, child forensic interviewer, and writer who is helping improve the lives of our nation’s children! On Ginger’s website she writes, “Caring, capable adults improve the world one child at a time” check out her site here. I was happy to ask her a few questions about her work and all the wonderful things she’s doing.

1.) What made you decide to make a dramatic change in your life, leaving your executive job to work with and help children?

Frankly, I *lucked* into it! My husband and I worked for several years in the corporate world and were at a point in our lives where we wanted a little more personal flexibility – you know, to travel, spend more time with each other and just enjoy life. So, we both decided to pursue freelance consulting and project work. During that time, a dear friend of mine was a board member for a child advocacy center called Chaucie’s Place. The executive director who helped start the center moved on to another opportunity, so the board was looking for someone to serve as interim director for several months while they conducted their search for a replacement. My background seemed to fit the bill. Well, it didn’t take long before I immediately fell head over heels in love with child advocacy work.

2.) How long have you been working with children? Would you mind explaining a bit more about what a child forensic interviewer is?

I have worked with children as a volunteer on-and-off through the years, but in a dedicated child advocacy capacity since 2008. I became a child forensic interviewer in 2009.

Basically, a child forensic interview takes place in cases of alleged child sexual or physical abuse, or neglect as part of an investigation by law enforcement or child protective authorities. Typically, a multidisciplinary team (“MDT”… which often includes representatives from child advocacy, law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services and victim advocacy) conducts a neutral, child-friendly interview of the alleged victim to gather information about abuse that may or may not have happened. There are various protocols for child forensic interviewing, but I am trained in and am a guest instructor for the Child First/Finding Words interview structure. Ideally, a child speaks one-on-one with a trained interviewer who follows protocol, keeping the child’s needs at the forefront of the interview. The child and interviewer are in a comfortable room while the rest of the MDT watches the interview via closed-circuit TV in another room. The interviewer often wears an earpiece so the MDT members can ask questions of the interviewer without disrupting the conversation with the child. It’s truly an amazing model and is much friendlier and less-scary for children than going to, for example, a police department (even those with “soft rooms”). Child advocacy centers often present a home-like feel, with toys, books, games, comfy furniture and bright or pastel colors (or even murals) on the walls. They don’t “feel” like places where criminal or child protection investigations happen.

Speaking of which, alleged perpetrators are not allowed on the premises. In the event an alleged perpetrator is another child (which, believe it or not happens pretty frequently) and a forensic interview is needed for that child, the alleged perpetrator would come to the center at a time when the alleged victim is not present. Many times when the alleged perpetrator is a child, we’ll want to talk to that child to see if he, himself, is a victim of abuse.  

3.) What would you say is a good way to empower children and help them feel safe, secure, and confident?

I think there are several ways to empower children that can begin as soon as they become verbal! Here are my Top Four suggestions:

1st Listen and believe! I believe these to be the most important actions parents can take in empowering children. Heck, even we adults feel good when someone is paying attention to us, right? I think it’s even more important with kids – it helps them feel valued and validated. In the event a child discloses abuse to an adult, it is imperative that the adult immediately believe the child… no matter how outlandish the child’s accusations or stories may seem. Over 90% of child sexual abuse victims know, love or trust their abusers. In fact, over 40% of child sexual abuse happens at the hands of family member. A vivid reminder of how sexual predators can be even the most respected of community icons is the recent scandal involving Penn State Asst. Coach Jerry Sandusky. Remember, the facts will work themselves out during the course of any investigations that take place, but it can be devastating to a child if the adult in whom they confide does not believe them. Additionally, not believing or taking immediate action could potentially lead to further abuse and serious harm for the child.

   2nd Teach children the real names of their body parts. This may not seem like such a big deal, but it is! Not only does it help them feel comfortable with their bodies, but it also aids children in the event they are ever sexually abused. For example, a little girl told her teacher that her uncle touched her “buttons”. The teacher innocently assumed the little girl was referring to the buttons on her jacket instead of her breasts and missed an opportunity to intervene and stop the molestation. I interviewed a child once who called a “penis” an “esophagus”… now that’s confusing. J

3rd Teach children which body parts are private… and have them practice saying “NO” to inappropriate touches. This is a basic element of the body safety course for which I am a volunteer instructor. This is pretty important, though… I can’t tell you the number of child forensic interviews in which I’ve been involved where a child didn’t say “no” or put up at least a bit of a fight against a molester’s advances… and they became victims of abuse. On the flip side, kids who know to say “NO!” or offer some resistance are most times left alone. Sexual predators are more likely to abuse children that acquiesce or that they believe can be manipulated. Talking with kids and reinforcing that, “No one has the right to touch a private part of their body for no good reason or just to play a game” is crucial! Also, have children practice saying “NO!” at the top of their lungs. Not only will they enjoy the opportunity to yell, but believe it or not, it really does help them feel empowered to protect themselves, no matter who their perpetrator might be.

4th Maintain an open level of rapport with your child.  Communication is key. I’m a big fan of “sound bite parenting” where parents reinforce key messages in everyday, teachable moments and small bits. Helping kids feel safe isn’t a one-‘n-done deal. It takes a lot of open, candid conversation throughout their childhood and teen years.  The more comfortable parents are in talking with their kids about these issues, the more likely their lines of communication will be two-way and open.

4.) I love the hopeful hints section on your blog it’s filled with lovely quotes and messages. Where do find most of your messages and do you have a favorite quote you’d like to share?

I love quotes and subscribe to different motivational emails, etc., which is the source for several of my Hopeful Hints. One of my favorite websites for finding quotes is “Good Reads” (www.goodreads.com/quotes). I will also use an occasional quote I read on Twitter.
My favorite of the Hopeful Hints I’ve done thus far is, “A very little key will open a very heavy door,” by Charles Dickens. Just by telling one responsible adult, children in abusive situations can find refuge. But it often takes them using that key to even crack that burdensome door. Predators use all sorts of tactics and tricks to keep children from disclosing abuse… and unfortunately, it often works. In fact, I conducted a couple of child interviews just this week where I suspect the perpetrators “coached” these children to keep silent. Oh, how I wish they would have been able to just pull out their little key… but abuse disclosure is a process and doesn’t always happen when those of us involved in investigations think it should.
Next Step
I broke Ginger’s interview into two parts because I didn’t want to shorten any of her answers. Child abuse is an issue that effects everyone. You may have been abused yourself, you may work with children or have children, or you may know someone who's been abused. Our children are the future and it’s up to all of us to help make this world a safe & loving environment for them and for ourselves.
Emotional Freedom Technique has helped many adults and children work through traumas, fear, anxiety, and learn to love & accept themselves. There is a great website that helps teach children how to use EFT www.eftforkids.org. Be sure to check out Ginger’s website www.gingerkadlec.com.
Check back Saturday for the second portion of this interview! For more information on EFT please visit & subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for the kind profile, Anna! It's been such a pleasure to meet you!!!