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Experts: High profile cases should urge parents to talk with kids about sexual assault

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As sexual assault allegations continue to come out across Hollywood and other industries, experts are urging parents to start having conversations with their kids.

Harvey Wienstein. Roy Price. Kevin Spacey. All three men are notable, powerful Hollywood figures. All three men are also in hot water after some say they were sexually assaulted by them. For Harvey Weinstein, the list of alleged victims continues to grow after the New York Times issued a story listing four new accusers, including one woman who says Weinstein raped her in a hotel room in the late 1970s. 

The horrifying stories told by all the victims have sparked a national outcry and movement. Now, many experts are urging parents to talk with their children about sexual assault as a way to keep it from happening. 

"I'm not surprised at all. This is what we do. This is what we know," said Erin Thornley Parisi, the executive director of the Rape Crisis Center in Madison. 

She believes continuously talking to children from a young age can help fight the war against sexual violence. 

"We should start talking about this really, really early," she added. 

For Thornley Parisi, talking to a child as soon as they can talk to you is the proper age to begin the instruction about consent and gender equality. 

"When you teach them about their body, you actually are teaching them that they own that body, that body is theirs and they get to make decisions about that body," she said.

She also noted that breaking stereotypes can also help empower girls and teach boys that girls are equal to them. 

"Starting with those little things like never saying to a boy, 'you throw like a girl'," she said. 

Dr. Darald Hanusa is a psychotherapist in Madison and agrees, even adding men have to take responsibility. 

"Sexual violence is not a woman's problem, it's a man's problem," he said. "As men, we have to model for other men -- fathers to sons -- this isn't OK." 

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, an American is sexually assaulted every 98 seconds. RAINN also notes that one in nine girls and one in 53 boys are sexually assaulted nationwide before they reach 18 years old. 

But although sexual violence has fallen by more than 60 percent since 1993, according to RAINN, experts say we still have a long way to go. 

"You have to start some place. I thing we have to start there, we have to have these conversations. We have to have parents reach their children," Hanusa said. 

It's a tough conversation to have, but one that could end a culture that's gripped a nation. 

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