Parents not at fault in Leaving Neverland - psychologist

News 12/03/2019

A clinical psychologist says it can be hard for parents to notice if their child is being groomed in the wake of Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland.

The four-hour documentary featured interviews with James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who say they were sexually abused by the singer.

Jackson's estate vehemently denies the accusations.

Both boys' parents were nearby during the alleged abuse at Neverland, but say they did not know what was going on.

Victoria University clinical psychologist Dougal Sutherland told The AM Show parents can often miss the signs of grooming.

"The thing you're looking for is the thing you're looking for when you're looking for good people to have around your kids, its good people that want to spend time with them that treat them specially."

Fame could have played a part too in Jackson's case, as well as the spectacle of Neverland, the singer's home that featured fair rides, a petting zoo and railway.

But his close friendship with children would have been a big warning sign.

"So Michael Jackson became friends with the children, and if you stop and think about that, why is an adult male being friends with a seven-year-old child?"

Dr Sutherland said parents should keep an eye on who their children are talking to and ask questions if an adult is contacting the child directly.

He also said parents should avoid using nicknames for anatomy to ensure children are able to talk about their body freely.

"Learn to use correct anatomical names for kids genitalia, don't use sort of funny, cutesy sort of names because it gives across the idea that this is something to be a little bit embarrassed or ashamed about.

"You want them to be able to talk about their genitals just in the same way they talk about their knees and their nose and their eyes and their toes."