Last night on Twitter I saw more than a few tweets asking “is no place safe to leave children with adults alone”. These questions came out in response to the Penn State Scandal where a respected coach was preying on young boys and the firings as a result.
The answer to the question of “is no place safe to leave children with adults alone” is probably no. Not as we currently function as a society anyway. There are monsters and predators in all walks of life that have every job imaginable, we can focus on the ones in the churches and the schools but children are taken advantage of every day by people in all different fields of work.
victim – I hate that word so lets start over.
As someone who was sexually molested when I was younger I was thinking last night what could have prevented it from happening? Was there something my parents could have said or done to keep me safe? Would it have been better if I’d been secluded from others for all of my growing years so I couldn’t get hurt? Was there a magic word that wasn’t uttered? a prayer? None of those things would have mattered. Some parents are child predators, some relatives, and keeping me locked away from the rest of the world would only serve to make me that more vulnerable when I was released.
What might have helped, and I’m just speculating on hindsight here, is a better understanding of sex. That sounds a bit out there I know, but when I was molested I hadn’t even had “health education” class yet and the only things I knew about sex were from the photos I saw in some dirty magazines one of my Mom’s friends or an uncle had in the basement (none of which were male on male sex). I was completely ignorant about all of it so when it was happening at the beginning I was mostly just confused. Pedophiles are very good at convincing the child of a few things, some work by coercion some by seduction, but they all get what they want out of it – the innocence of the child.
For me, I was conned into thinking he actually loved me and that’s why he wanted to do those things to me. It never occurred to me that if he loved only me why was he doing it to the other 15 boys in town. He was smart, after the first night he fondled me, before working up to more sexual things he had a cover story that he fed my Mom that she bought – in her defense it was a pretty good story – and I was there when he told her and had learned early on that I wasn’t to contradict adults.
I’ve digressed here a bit I think. I’m not a parent, but things that might have helped me I’ll list below.
I think if we want to have our children be safer out there in a world with monsters we need to talk to them more about sex earlier – let them know we’re open to talk with them about anything weird that’s going on. Let them know that any naked secrets are bad secrets and any time they feel uncomfortable they should feel free to talk to us. We need to communicate with them and understand what’s going on in their world regularly. I don’t think kids should be left alone with an adult for a long period of time or at several different times over a long period. Children shouldn’t spend the majority of their free time with someone older than them.
We also need adults that don’t turn a blind eye when a question is raised. Just because that person is from the military, church, school, or hospital doesn’t make them incapable of doing horrible things. If your kids pull away, start acting differently, bring up reasons to not hang out with someone – there might be something deeper there.
What happened to me and has happened to millions of other kids in the world doesn’t have to happen. But if it does happen, those kids need real heroes to be there and stop the monsters. Be a real hero.
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-4-A-CHILD
Child Abuse Prevention Association: http://www.childabuseprevention.org/
National Child Abuse Hotlines: http://reportchildabusenow.com/
Adult Survivors of Child Abuse: http://www.ascasupport.org/