The alarming rise of Child Sexual Abuse

Discussion in 'General Information & Discussion' started by Gunther Toody, Dec 15, 2014.

  1. Gunther Toody

    Gunther Toody Member

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    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 don’t 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.

    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. It’s a coin toss. If you don’t know the people involved in your children’s 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 know—really know—the people who influence your children.

    In most cases, people choose to trust other, nameless, people to ensure their children’s 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.

    It’s 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.
    And it’s 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.
  2. Gunther Toody

    Gunther Toody Member

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    Sexual predators seek out and target victims much the same as a predatory animal seeks out its prey.

    Step 1
    The sexual predator first identifies and targets the victim. Don't kid yourself...any child or teen may be a potential victim. Some predators may be attracted to children with certain characteristics or may target youth with a certain family structure — such as overly friendly or trusting parents. Other factors could include a certain eye color, body size, or proximity to the victim.

    Step 2
    Gaining the trust and access to the victim. The predator may observe the child and assesses his/her vulnerabilities to learn how best to approach and interact with the child. Predators may offer the victims special attention, understanding and a sympathetic ear, and then engage the child in ways that eventually gain their friendship and trust (they may play games with victims or give them rides, provide them with gifts and/or special treats).

    Step 3
    Fitting themselves in to the child’s life. The predator may manipulate the relationship so that it appears he or she is the only one who fully understands the child or meets the child’s needs in a particular way. A predator may also exploit a youth’s empathy and convince the young person that s/he is the only one who understands the predator.

    Step 4
    Isolating the child victim. This can be accomplished by innocently offering the child rides and/or taking the child out of his or her surroundings. This is one way that the predator may separate the child from others and gain access to the child alone, so that others cannot witness the abuse. (Note that in other instances, predators have been successful in molesting victims without detection while other adults were in the room.) "Come sit on Uncle Joe's lap."

    Step 5
    Creating a sense of secrecy around the relationship. The predator may reinforce the special connection with the victim when they are alone or through private communication with the victim (such as letters, emails or text messages), and strengthen it with admonitions against telling anyone. Once the predator establishes a bond, s/he may threaten the victim with disclosure, suicide, physical harm to the child or loved ones, or other traumas if he or she tells.

    Step 6
    Initiating first sexual contact. With the power over the child victim established through emotional connection coercion or one of the other tactics, the predator may eventually initiate physical contact with the victim. It may begin with touching that is not overtly sexual (though a predator may find it sexually gratifying) and that may appear to be casual (arm around the shoulder, pat on the knee, etc.). Gradually, the perpetrator may introduce more sexualized touching. By breaking down inhibitions and desensitizing the child, the predator can begin overtly touching the child.

    Step 7
    Controlling the relationship. Predators rely on the secrecy of the relationship to keep it going, and to ensure that the child will not reveal the abuse. Children are very often afraid of disclosing the abuse. They may have been told that they will not be believed, or that something about the child “makes” the abuser do this to them. The child may also feel shame, or fear that they will be blamed. Often, the predator threatens the child to ensure that s/he won’t disclose the abuse.

    This will have a lifelong impact on the victim, especially if after getting up the courage to tell someone, they are not believed. "Uncle Joe would never do that!" or "Quit making things up!" Psychotherapy is usually the only course of action open to victims of child sexual predators and in many cases it is accompanied by a lifetime of medication.

    So parents...know who is interacting with your child.

    My next post will be on what signs to watch for in your children that could indicate that someone is abusing them.

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