Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sex Abuser? That Guy? No way!

Back in June there was a little poem written by Bracha Goetz in a Jewish Press article (republished earlier this week in Beyond BT) that was actually quite frightening.

Here are signs to protect our children from danger:
In 95% of cases, the molester's not a stranger.
He's someone you know and respect. He's disarming.
He is drawn to children. And he's awfully charming.

Child sexual abuse is nothing new. It has been an upfront topic for several years now. In rthe process there have been a lot high profile cases that have been discussed in various periodicals and blogs. In some cases there has been positive steps taken to help fight the phenomenon - in one form or another. In other ways there has been some resistance to go full steam ahead - as shown by the reluctance by some to support legislation that would benefit victims. I'm not making judgments here. Just pointing out facts.

This article is not about that. It is a preventative article. It puts into sharp focus a very serious aspect about sex abuse among children that is often glossed over and is contributory to the problem itself. Those who most often abuse children sexually are people they not only know and trust – but people that are very charming. They are the kind of people that children – and even adults - might easily gravitate to socially.

I think this fact helps explain why there has been such reluctance and even resistance in some cases to prosecute sex abusers. The community that enjoys the company of such charming individuals can hardly believe they are sex abusers - some of whom may be long standing and respected members of the community.

Whenever someone like that is accused of sex abuse, it is almost impossible to believe. What often happens is that the accusers are disbelieved and vilified. How dare he (or she) accuse such a wonderful person?! He couldn’t possibly be guilty of something like that. The accuser – they will say - must be some sort of dysfunctional sick dropout from society out for revenge. Or - if the child is young – people might say that he must have been mistaken about what happened – mistaking some innocent gesture as a sexual one.

The problem is - experts tell us that most accusations from very young people are true.

I know a lot of very charming people. I would be hard pressed to believe any of them were child molesters. I’m sure they are not. If God forbid one of them were accused of it, I would probably have the same reaction of incredulity. How could ‘so and so’ be accused of that?! I know him! He is so accomplished. He is so successful. He is so bright. And he is so very charming! No way!

Well apparently… ‘yes way’! As I said - experts tell us that when a young child accuses someone of sex abuse - it’s probably true. Unless there is evidence of false accusations one must assume there is something to the accusation – no matter how unbelievable it might sound or hard it might be to react that way to it.

That said I would add the same caveat I always do. One must be examine the circumstances to make certain that this is not a frivolous accusation by a troubled child who has some sort of history. But barring that one should err on the side of caution and immediately report any accusations to the police.

What can parents do to protect their children against sexual predators?

The advice given in the article is important. It informs parents how to approach the subject of sex abuse at various stages in their children’s lives. I urge everyone to read that article and take notes.