Sexual abuse seems to be everywhere these days, especially in the places that everyone feels that children should be safe. Schools should be a place of education, in both books and social interactions, but these days those in such positions of power use it to fill personal needs.
Teachers, coaches, principals, and tutors, for example, are finding ways to exploit children in greater numbers, and the abuse will shape those children as profoundly as the lessons learned in math or spelling. The schools, however, aren’t alone in suffering through the agenda of sexual predators. Every day the media reports new ways they adapt to suit their needs. Band teachers, cheerleading coaches, Boy Scout leaders, babysitters, house sitters, dance teachers, model searching photographers, movie producers or talent scouts, the list goes on and on. Of course, it doesn’t have to be someone associated with schools, sports or music, because we have neighbors, friends, and ministers who have access to children when no one else is looking. We have adults that have unmet needs, and they are exploiting those that are accessible, easily influenced, and vulnerable.
I ask, why don’t we begin at the root of the problem? Who is spending time with your children? If you don’t have the time to be there when they need you, then you can count on there being someone that will. Like adults, children also have needs and they crave the attention of an adult that makes them feel worthy. If you work all the time and choose to involve your children in classes and programs to keep them out of trouble, do you know who has access to your child and what they’re doing when they are alone?
Children have to be entrusted to abusers, which, in turn, grants the abuser access to them. The more time these adults or older kids have with your children, the more they are able to learn about them, about their home life, and begin to offer what’s missing. Taking an interest in a child’s life, giving guidance and direction, is absolutely the role of each and every adult, and because such a process is detrimental to the growth of children, exploitation is always a possibility.
The more personal the role these individuals have, the easier it is to exploit the situation, and most are not strangers to you either. I am sorry if this sounds like a scare tactic on my part, but wouldn’t you rather be safe than sorry? It is easier to protect the child than having to help them heal and recover from abuse. Make a list of all the people who have access to your children; family and everyone who consistently spends time with them, and be aware of anyone that shows unnatural attention towards children in general. Beware anyone that offers to do what you can’t. I can assure you, they’ve been watching and they are willing.
I have been taking a special interest in all the stories in the paper and news, and I hope you will see the value in doing the same. Every story reveals the process each predator uses to take advantage of victims. If we simply pay attention it gives us ways we can also protect them.
Do you have any adults offering to spend time with your kids?
A teacher offering to spend time after school to tutor a child in areas they are struggling with, especially anything one on one, because that gives the teacher unsupervised time to possibly taking advantage of them. A band instructor that shows special interest in a promising player, offering to aid them privately, appealing to your desire to see your child shine as you know they can.
The coach that offers to aid a player in learning to overcome some struggle he/she knows a father has no time for. The female piano teacher, that your son loves to spend hours with, even if his playing never improves. She shows him how to be a man that knows how to play a woman.
The tutor at school that all the boys wish they could be like and all the girls sigh over as he talks to them one on one. Your daughter exchanges cell phone numbers with him, and he showers her with the kind of attention all the other girls wish they had. The single guy next door that walks over to visit with you, commenting on seeing your child do this or that, and offering to watch over him or her if you ever need some help.
I know what you are thinking, how can I ever protect my child from so many different ways a predator can get to them? The truth is no one can shield their child from everything. However, never be so busy that you don’t see the change in your child, and if you ever feel in your gut that something isn’t right, listen to it. Too many times parents dismiss what they shouldn’t or they outright reject what would make them look like a failure. Every situation I listed came from a story read in the paper, don’t be unaware.
Predators walk among us daily. With the statute of limitation on sexual abuse of children being a reality, the advantage is in the hands of the abuser. They know how to work the system as they know how to work the vulnerable child and unexpected parent. Start the dialogue today so tomorrow you won’t be silenced.
All my best, Heath.
Read more about Heath and his story here: Heath’s website