The New York Times reported on June 26th that a 25-year old school aide in New York City had been arrested for raping a 15-year old student at the school where he works. A few days earlier, the Times also reported that a school crossing guard had been charged with 1,000 counts of child molestation. A Georgia publication announced recently that a former bus driver was convicted of impregnating a 15-year old girl while he was on the job. Finally, the Times put together a chart showing the number of complaints that questioned the “moral character” of teachers and administrators in the state of New York. (The number of complaints showed a steady increase.) Is there any “trust” left in our “trusted elders”?
Of course there is, but children need to know that trust is conditional. The Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute works to make the public aware that 95 percent of child molestations are actually preventable. A total of 39 million living adults in the United States have survived child sexual abuse, and three million children are suffering from child abuse today. These are the reported numbers, but millions more experience abuse and never tell.
The institute claims that out of four kinds of people who are likely to abuse children (including curious teenagers, the mentally ill, and sociopaths), the ones that act the most on their desire are those who have “an ongoing sex drive directed at children.” In other words, there are people out there who will try to get their hands on children at whatever cost. What can we do to prevent it? First and most importantly, listen to the kids.
NCPC encourages parents to listen to everything their child says—especially their feelings and fears. Kids are instinctive, so let them follow these instincts. If an adult says or does something that makes them feel uncomfortable, your child needs to be able to tell you. Cultivate confidence in your relationship with your child by respecting what she says. Kids should also know that no adult should even ask them to keep a special secret. As the organization, Love Our Children puts it: “A child's voice is small, ignored and unheard. Raise the volume so that everyone hears their message.”
It is possible to treat child molesters and pedophiles. Sex-specific therapists perform cognitive-behavioral treatments and administer medicines to alter sex drives. They are trained to proceed with treatment even if the patient denies his problem. But all this is useless unless we, as individuals act as watchdogs. Sex offenders are often good at keeping their secrets, and as a result, remain trusted neighbors and friends for years while they victimize children. That’s why it’s important to take any suspicions seriously and to keep on top of the Sex Offender Registry. Don’t underestimate your children though—they’re too important to ignore.