Support Play Groups

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, with parents (guardians) and children exploring similar issues in their own peer groups.

    Play groups meet weekly, one hour, for 8-10 sessions. Staff includes one parent educator, one childhood educator and volunteer advocates to assist with children. Times and days vary during the year.

    The focus of Support Play Groups is to intervene on the direct effects of victimization, decreasing the feelings of isolation and alienation that children and their parents/guardians often experience as a result of sexual abuse. In addition, providing healthy beliefs and attitudes regarding interpersonal/family interaction, and assisting children in relearning appropriate boundaries with other children and adults.

    Children's Component

    Abused children are, through the experience, often deprived the opportunity to play in a free and spontaneous manner which, developmentally, is a most significant vehicle in the process of developing adult skills. Thus, Support Play Groups offer the child an 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 important link. Discussion topics are centered around activities. Play is, obviously, an essential part of the format. The children's format is modified according to age group.

    Parent's Component

    At the same time it is essential to work with parents (guardians) who may be experiencing difficulty in their role, due in part to the sexual abuse. Parents explore a number of parenting issues. Particularly:

  • Understanding of childhood development - appropriate expectations.
  • The importance of their role in facilitating children's growth.
  • Exploring healthy options to parental difficulties.
  • Enable parents to draw on their strengths, examining their weaknesses.
  • Development of an empathetic understanding of children's needs.
  • Understanding children's PLAY and working towards a nurturing philosophy.
  • Discussion of self esteem, communication, awareness of feelings, family rules, adult needs vs. parental role, development of trust, sexuality, conflict.

    If you have further questions about Support Play Groups or would like more information on registration procedures contact:

    Program Director
    Sexual Assault Program of Northern St. Louis County
    327 1st St S Suite 17
    Virginia, MN 55792
    (218) 749-4725