Protecting Your Kids from Sexual Abuse
- Friday, July 25, 2008
When it comes to sexual abuse, keep the following truth in mind: Male family members can deliver your child and you from all kinds of harm, and they can deliver all kinds of harm as well.
No one who’s familiar with my body of writing can say I’m anti-guy. I think men get a bad rap in society, and there is a profound prejudice against them in church. Men are regularly marginalized, lied about, and lampooned with very little outcry. But the body of evidence in this area is simply overwhelming. Heterosexual men commit the vast majority of sexual abuse in America, more than 90 percent.
Some say it’s because of how all guys are wired. I contend that it’s the result of the lack of fathering and, with it, the lack of male integrity. The prison population bears this out: Approximately 85 percent of male inmates grew up without fathers. Boys need men to show them how to be men and to help keep them from going over the cliffs of life.
Gavin De Becker says,
[My greatest contribution] to solving the mystery of aberrant behavior is my refusal to call it a mystery. Rather, it is a puzzle; I have seen the pieces so often that I may recognize them sooner than some people, but my main job is just to get them on the table…Above all, I hope to leave you knowing that you never have to wait for all the pieces to be in place before you act.
This is particularly troublesome for parents and kids who think that first and foremost they must be nice (don’t make waves) instead of good (make the right kind of waves), that making a decision before you have all the information might mean hurting someone’s feelings, and that’s what we’re supposed to avoid.
I know people who, without knowing all the “pieces” regarding Y2K, made substantial changes to their financial assets. In hindsight, they overreacted. But they did what they thought was best at the time with something very valuable to them, and they owe no apology for making an important choice without knowing every fact.
For some reason that escapes my understanding many parents think it’s wrong for our children to behave this way or for us to behave this way on behalf of our children. What’s more valuable to us than our kids?! The fact is, if we protected our children the way we protect our assets, most would be better off most of the time. Do we really love money more than our children? No one wants to reach that conclusion, yet why are we willing to ruffle feathers over money and not over our precious boys and girls?
One in three girls and one in six boys will have sexual contact with an adult—usually a family member. About 20 percent of the time, the abuser is an adolescent. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the average molester of girls will have about fifty victims before being caught and convicted. The average molester of boys will have 150 victims before being caught and convicted. Most will have “plenty after being caught as well, some even victimizing as many as 30 children during their ‘careers.’”
More than 90 percent of the offenders are heterosexual males who gained access to and control of the child. They count on secrecy and nice manners—that is, that your child will do as she is told and not fight back. Sexual predators do more than assault children physically. They hack into their minds and tell them lies are true (“If your mother knew, she’d hate you”). They deliberately try to erode a child’s understanding of healthy boundaries and safety (“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you”).
Many parents (myself included) have never experienced sexual abuse. That someone would behave so cruelly and diabolically is mind-boggling. But then I analyzed the malicious behavior I have experienced or witnessed in life, and you know what’s remarkable? In every premeditated, malicious act, once the victim talked, the predator attacked the victim’s comprehension of fairness, justice, and decency. Predators, sexual or otherwise do not, without force, admit to their cruelty and deception—they escalate their attack in order to maintain control.
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