The recent prosecution of Wendy Wood Holland, brought to light the most heinous elements of child sexual abuse. It is a crime that has reached epidemic levels yet it goes largely unheard of unless cases such as Holland's bring it into the forefront. As victims, people tend to keep it in and not say anything. Most are afraid to come forward out of fear, shame or embarrassment. Everyone that you know has either been abused or know someone who has. That is frightening. Family members are the most likely to abuse children, starting with parents, siblings, or close relatives. The next group, surprisingly are public school employees. Teachers, principals, coaches, janitors, counselors, etc...make up this group. So how do you protect your child? Protecting your child starts with knowing who they hang around with How much do you know about the people who influence your children? What do you know about their teachers? Who are their friends, or their friends parents? What does their little league coach do for a living? A hundred years ago, you would be able to answer all of these questions. If you did not know the person, or if you did not know someone who would vouch for the person, you would not let your child go near him or her unaccompanied. All that has changed. Today, most of us dont know the answer to any of these questions. Therein lies one of our biggest problems. Here is a sobering statistic that you can read for yourself. Various studies have shown that as many as 34% of females and up to 16% of males have been the victim of educator sexual abuse. https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf It matters who has direct interaction with, and influence over, your children. Obviously not every stranger is bad. Most are not. But not every stranger is a saint, either. Its a coin toss. If you dont know the people involved in your childrens lives you are gambling with their safety. Even if they are not in physical danger, they are in constant danger from the exposure to ideas that are anathema to the values you want to instill in them. So the question becomes...How can parents possibly exercise their responsibility to protect children if they know so little about the people who are deeply involved in their lives? Get to knowreally knowthe people who influence your children. In most cases, people choose to trust other, nameless, people to ensure their childrens safety. The alternative is too much of a hassle, or too awkward, or we think we have better things to do with our time. We just don't think about it. Its no wonder that Miramonte Elementary School teacher, Mark Berndt, was able to get away with sexually abusing children in his Los Angeles classroom for more than two decades. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/15/mark-berndt-no-contest-plea_n_4279328.html And its no wonder that hundreds of thousands of other teachers, coaches, church workers, child care volunteers, neighbors, pastors, and priests are getting away with it right now. If there is sufficient interest in this topic, I will keep it going or if you wish to share your personal experience, do it here. It may help to talk about it. In my next post on this topic I will talk about how predators select and groom a child for abuse.