Societies that thought it couldn't happen to them are now beset with the problem!
MOST of us would rather not talk about child sex abuse. The problem is, child molestation worldwide feeds on just such an atmosphere of ignorance and secrecy. These are the molester's allies. By informing yourself on how. others have learned to deal with this problem, you can help your family avoid a tragedy that besets hundreds of thousands of families each year.
Scope of the Problem
There are individuals and groups that see nothing wrong with adult-child sexual relationships. The motto of one organization of pedophiles is "sex before eight, or else it is too late." Even whole societies in Africa, South Asia and the South Pacific are known to permit prepubescent sexual initiations. We live in a world that has lost sight of the very purpose of children and the family. Today in Britain, one in 10 children will be sexually abused before age 18 — one in six in the United States. God instituted the family to bring up healthy, whole-minded individuals (Mal. 2:15), not frightened children who must bear lifelong mental scars, or who become trapped into prostitution, or who grow up to victimize other children and perpetuate the cycle of abuse. God forbids incest (Lev. 18:6-17) and fornication (I Cor. 6:9, 18; 7:2) and every other form of sex abuse because he knew the pain and problems that spring from them. The problem we face — whether one refers to child sex abuse or the arms race — is the lack of right knowledge. The knowledge we desperately need in this world today is not how to build a more powerful computer, but the revealed knowledge from God himself — knowledge about how to rear decent children, how to produce upright young adults to deal with the problems accumulated by generations past. Sex abuse robs children of the full opportunity to be those happy, future problem-solving young adults. Instead of learning to be contributors, they must strive today to be survivors.
Teach Yourself First
The times in which we live demand parents teach their children how to avoid being caught up in the web of child sex abuse. To do so, parents must first realize that there is no clear stereotype of a child molester. Child molestation cuts across all economic, educational, social, religious and ethnic lines. What we do know is that about 80 percent of the time the molester is not a, stranger. In more than nine of 10 cases, the abuser is a male. Another common factor among child molesters, especially in the case of incest, is alcohol abuse. The lives of many molesters are known to be influenced by child pornography and erotic literature. Authorities have found that such "visual aids" are used as tools by abusers to justify sexual. relations to the children whom they victimize. The new victim is often photographed and the photos are used in yet other attempts at child molestation. And perhaps the most common characteristic of all, according to one study, 80 percent of child sex abusers were themselves, abused as children. While these facts constitute only a rough profile of child molesters, much is known about the techniques they employ to tempt their victims. Child molesters simply go where the children are. They look for situations that put them in close contact with children; for work in counseling, coaching, child-care facilities and other similar jobs. Rarely is violence used against preadolescents. Instead, seduction has proven to be the child molester's best means of coercion. "These guys spend hours winning the love and affection of a child," said police Sgt. Joseph Polisar of Albuquerque, New Mexico. "Some pedophiles will take a year to swoon a child." Once a child has been secretly trapped, the abuse may continue by way of threats or blackmail. Typically, the molester will threaten to tell the child's parents what has happened or to show them photographs of the child in indecent poses. In some cases, the abuser will threaten the child's family with harm. Abusers sometimes demonstrate their potential for violence on animals or inanimate objects to reinforce fears in their victims. Caught in a battle of unequals and uncertain how his parents will react to the secret, the child usually submits to the abuse sometimes for months or even years.
Watch for Signs of Abuse
By no means should parents suddenly become alarmists over the issue of child abuse. Avoid being paranoid. But parents must, for their children's sake, learn to recognize signs of possible molestation. According to Dr. Sandra J. Kaplan, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at North Shore Hospital in Manhasset, New York, there are different signs to look for in various age groups. In preschool children, parents should look for a significant change of sleep or eating habits, bed-wetting, a fear of strangers — especially men precocious questions or open displays of sexuality such as masturbation, and redness or infections in the genital area. In preadolescents, watch for changes in school grades or social behavior and, again, a fear of strangers. And in adolescents, Dr. Kaplan asks parents to watch for sexual diseases, preoccupation with sexuality, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, pregnancy and running away. In the latter case, many of these runaway youths wind up involved in prostitution. One university survey of male and female prostitutes in Seattle, Washington, found that almost half had been sexually abused by a relative or neighbor as children.
What to Teach Children
What do children need to know about child sex abuse? Here are some tips based on advice from experts who have counseled cases of child sex abuse: • Teach children about the purpose of their genitals and their right to privacy. Be explicit. Stress that no one should touch them in a sexual fashion. Explain that there are good kinds of touches like when Mom or Dad gives them a good night hug and kiss, and bad kinds of touches as when someone touches them in an area of their body that is private. This is something both parents should talk over with their children together. • Teach children that any gifts offered them must be acknowledged by you before they can be accepted. • Instruct children to run away from people who touch them in wrong ways. Teach them to yell "No!" and run and tell their parent or another adult what has happened. Introduce them to people they can trust. Show them where they can go for help if someone tries to bother them and they can't find you, the parent. • Let children know that it is good for them to tell you what has happened. Explain that you want very much for them to do so. Emphasize that when someone touches them in a wrong way or shows them something wrong, it is not something that should be kept secret. • Instruct them to tell you if someone asks them to take their clothes off, or if someone with whom they are unfamiliar asks to take their photograph or talks about sex with them. • Don't force children to hug and kiss anyone — even relatives — if it makes the child feel uncomfortable. By coercing a child to be affectionate, you may unwittingly condition him to respond to an abuser's advances as well. • Teach your children their home telephone number and street address and how to use the phone in an emergency. • Teach your children never to get into any car or go into anyone's house without your permission. • A void dressing a child in provocative adult-style clothing. Pedophiles openly admit to being sexually stimulated by children wearing "grown up" apparel. And do not put children's names on the outside of their clothing or possessions. This gives a would — be molester a first-name-basis advantage.
Other Points to Keep in Mind
Be sure to thoroughly investigate any individual or child-care center you may wish to have mind your child. Make sure that the childcare center allows unannounced visits by parents. Better yet, says Kenneth V. Lanning, a child-sex-abuse expert with the FBI: "Whenever possible, assume the child-caring responsibilities for your child. Every time you put your child in the care of someone else, there's a chance — a small chance — that your child will be molested." But the most important thing you, as parents, can do for your children is to make sure they know they have your total support. That support is affirmed to the child by your reliability as a parent. Inconsistency destroys your credibility. And this includes your example, your way of life. It involves the very standards you set for yourself. For example, if you accept pornography in your home, how can you expect your. children to find anything wrong when a child abuser shows them photos of "happy" children engaging in sex with an adult in child pornography? Warren Mumpower, a convicted pedophile, wrote a letter to the U.S. Senate committee investigating child abuse. In his letter, he pointed out: "As much as parents do not wish to admit, they must realize their life is the EXAMPLE that the child will follow. If the mother is of immoral character and allows her boyfriend to 'move in,' then it is certain the eight-year-old will have her own boyfriend.... Many single parents, and married ones also, are so wrapped up in 'self' that they actually pawn their children off on the pedophile.... "
Who's to Blame?
A cartoonist, the late Walt Kelly, once observed in his comic strip Pogo, "We has met the enemy, and it is us." Few parents like to think about their role in creating problems. The rise in the number of reported incidents of child sex abuse has gone hand in hand with the decline in self-restraint. While the "have" nations extoll material gains and the "I've got my rights" attitude, they have failed to see what the neglect of their responsibilities has cost. The increase in the number of single-parent homes and the number of women working outside the home have exposed more and more children to a greater risk of sex abuse. The attitude of sexual liberality that has developed since the early champions of sexual freedom espoused their doctrines has removed many formerly binding social restraints. Those who might otherwise control certain urges have gradually neglected the discipline of self-control. As one attorney in Richmond, Virginia, noted: "Our society has become more lax about kinky sex. I think people who have repressed this in the past may now feel there is less danger." The sexually and morally debased society the Bible warned us about 1,900 years ago is with us today. In a world such as we must live in today, it is hard to imagine that someday children will not have to worry about the possibility of child sex abuse; where all people can grow and develop into contributing, problem-solving individuals instead of problem-ridden abusers and victims. Yet, happily, such a world is coming! We do have reason for hope. With the sure restoration of God's government on this earth, we will one day be able to dwell in peace and enjoy our families and watch our future problem-solvers mature into healthy, whole-minded young men and women. For a closer look at this new age, why not read our free booklets The Wonderful World Tomorrow - What It Will Be Like and The Incredible Human Potential.