A Heritage High School teacher has been released from jail following her arrest on a child sex abuse charge. The incident allegedly happened in 2009.
Kelly Bryant, a former volleyball coach and teacher at Heritage, has been charged with taking indecent liberties with a child.
The Lynchburg Police Department is asking others to come forward and report any information related to the case. Parents are also encouraged to speak with their kids about abuse.
WFXR spoke with the lead forensic interviewer at the Children’s Advocacy Center, an organization dedicated to preventing the abuse of children and advocating on their behalf.
“When information like this hits communities, the first reaction parents have is that worry-oh my gosh, has something also happened to my kid?” says Christina Rouse, lead forensic interview and program director.
Though it’s a natural concern for parents to have, Rouse says conversations with kids should be approached in the right way. She recommends speaking with children generally about sexual abuse, and avoiding leading or suggestive questions.
“Just have open conversations about safety in general. And maybe not so much about specifics about the case that may have come out, or that person who may have been arrested,” says Rouse.
She says conversation will differ depending on the age of the child, but you can start talking about the issue of sexual abuse even when children are young.
“I started having conversations about my body safety with my 3-year-old. So I think the earlier you have the conversation with your kids, the stronger the message will be,” says Rouse.
As children become older, Rouse says monitoring interactions with adults, particularly on social media, plays an important role in child safety.
“What kind of communication do they have with my kid? Is it through text messages, do they have my child’s cell phone number, or is it face to face contact? Are they going out meeting places? All those things are things parents need to be aware of with whose spending time with their kids,” says Rouse.
She adds that one thing to remember is that children are not responsible for their own safety. Rather, organizations should have strong enforcement policies and adults should speak up if they suspect something could be wrong with a child.
You can read the original story about Bryant’s arrest and hear from former students here.