Saving Children From Predators: The Oath of the “Hell No” parent
The recent atrocities that have come to light in the Penn State scandal are a reminder to us all about how important it is to protect our nation’s children and do whatever it takes to stop the sexual abuse of children here and around the world.
If you read the grand jury indictment (http://on.freep.com/ufZ1SQ) and the victim and witness accounts, you no doubt were disturbed, upset and angry to learn not only about the horrendous acts that occurred but also the denial and the lack of courage by multiple witnesses and others who “had a feeling” or “thought something was odd” but did nothing.
Who are we as adults and parents that we cannot find it in ourselves to step up and say something? Too often it seems fear of being wrong, outcast by the “system”, not finding the time, or thinking it is someone else’s business stops us from saving a child. It is heartbreaking. It is time for us to step up and take a “Hell No!” attitude when it comes to inappropriate behavior and abuse.
Testing the Waters Leading to Abuse
Reading the report, you can see the pattern of how Sandusky slowly “tested the waters” with these children moving from questionable activity to inappropriate behavior to the worst imaginable. This “testing the waters” time period is where we have an opportunity as parents to stop this behavior before it becomes extreme. Have you ever witnessed or heard of behavior such as tickling, wrestling, massaging, open mouthed kissing, petting or licking for “horseplay”? Does that seem like appropriate behavior to you? If it doesn’t, you need to take a “Hell No!” attitude and stop this type behavior.
A woman recently posted on a mommy blog about a creepy uncle who tickled her child and made excuses to be in the room while she was changing her child or bathing her. This continued for years. She felt awkward saying anything even though her intuition told her something was strange. She didn’t want the family to be angry with her and she questioned herself. In the mean time, she was sending a message to her child that this behavior was acceptable and that he had “permission” to see her nude and be there when she bathed. This is a critical point where a parent’s intuition must be trusted and a child must be educated.
It is so important to realize that predators depend on these ambiguities and your discomfort in speaking up to “test the waters” with victims. It provides a level of protection against the abuser until the victim is completely vunerable. Like Sandusky “tested the waters” with activities like putting his hand on a potential victim’s knee, cracking backs to gain body to body contact, kissing on the mouth and eventually showering at the gym after a workout, these small steps are confusing to a child. We know that they are not appropriate but we need to make sure our children know before activities like these go beyond the imaginable. We often feel powerless. But we must teach our children to be powerful in order to keep them from predators.
Even now Sandusky is trying to use ambiguity and mind games to create confusion about what he is guilty of. Can you imagine how manipulative language and actions like his can be for a child? Empowering and communicating with our kids and taking a “Hell No!” attitude to inappropriate behavior is our only chance to protect the life and innocence of a child.
I encourage you to be brave. Take this oath to be a “Hell No!” parent.
The Oath of the “Hell No!” parent
__ I will talk to my children about inappropriate behavior including behavior that they may not be sure is inappropriate.
__ I will not be ambiguous and let my child know that predators use things such as touch, tickling, wrestling, hugging and kissing to gain permission for contact that leads to further abuse.
__ I will directly address behavior that I do not feel is appropriate assertively and immediately and leave no question about my views.
__ I will contact the police and report concerning activity. I will do so in addition to notifying any institutions involved but the police will be contacted regardless. Advancements towards children are criminal and should be dealt with as such.
__ I will pay attention to any adult that is close to my child and be aware of what and why they are engaging with my child.
__ I will protect my child AT ALL COSTS to myself, my family and my reputation.
Let’s take these tragic events and use them to proactively stop this activity. Every parent has the right and responsibility to do whatever it takes to protect and empower their kids. If we don’t, who will?