STUART, Fla. (CBS12) — A local expert is urging parents to have a much-needed conversation about sex abuse with their children. This comes after detectives with Martin County Sheriff's Office say 26-year-old Jose Antonio Valentin, a former youth counselor with The Boys and Girls Club of Martin County, sent explicit messages to underage children in an attempt to solicit sex.
Mindi Fetterman, executive director of the sexual abuse counseling non-profit organization The Inner Truth Project, said open dialogue and awareness can help prevent these incidents.
"A perpetrator is really looking for a child who is vulnerable in the sense that they won't use their voice," said Fetterman.
She said it's important for parents to use age-appropriate terms to teach children about their different body parts and that those parts are private.
"It's one of those things that we can't talk about enough," she said.
Fetterman said parents should not only talk to their children but listen to their kids.
"Yes, kids can use a lot of imagination but they're certain things that they're not going to be able to make up unless they've actually been exposed to it."
She urged parents to also look out for behavior signs of abuse.
"Especially with sleep and eating and who they're wanting to hang out with that coupled with the things they are actually verbalizing, it's really important that we pay attention to that."
Those who suspect a child is being or has been sexually abused can contact local law enforcement as well as child-service organizations such as ChildHelp at 1-800-422-4453 or RAINN at 1-800-656-4673.