Thank you for taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful manner and for taking the time to give tips for prevention, Amber Lisa. I was going to put them in myself, but I am not an expert, so I left it with the links in place. It is helpful to have tips in the comments as you have done.
Yes, of course. And the links are perfect. Your speaking out about this is the most important thing anyone can do about this. These stories need to be told.
I was reluctant to say anything at first, because I’m no expert when it comes to children and sexual abuse. But I’ve also had personal experiences with it, that are quite painful.
I am astounded by how severe the problem is and how little the responsible adults of the world are doing about it, largely because, I think, we don’t know what to do. We are also dealing with a predatory population that knows exactly what to do. They target the most vulnerable among us, poor children, quiet children.
Often times the adults, because of poverty or the child’s status, may even feel like there is not much they can do. For whatever reason, adults are reluctant to believe children when they do speak up, which is even more damaging to the child’s psyche than even the abuse itself. This is the worst kind of betrayal.
That is why what your group is doing is so important. Tell these stories so that these despicable patterns are more easily discernible. Tell these stories so that children cannot be dismissed when they speak up.
We all need to understand the way in which these predators operate, so that we can pick up on the clues and signs. I would say, for example, any male adult that wants to spend excessive amounts of time with children alone is
A friend of mine works at a school where a predator just like you described was caught. He told me that he thought a red flag was the way the man (also a teacher) would essentially stalk certain students, feigning concern for their well being.
Like your teacher, this man had a trail of sexually assaulted students behind him that spanned decades. What eventually caused him to be captured was his inappropriate cyber stalking of students on Facebook, so the social media can be a double edged sword for these predators — yes it allows them to stalk victims, but it also leaves a record of them doing so.
Many others have conveyed similar stories, about male teachers engaging in just the sort of patterns you have described above. This is not to say that only men are involved in this sort of predatory behavior, women are involved as well, but usually not in that fashion.
Men generally do not have intense interest in children which are not their own, or related to them in some way. When you see men with this interest, I think it is responsible to ask yourself what is this interest really about? Or to put it more cynically, “what’s in it for him?” I never used to think this way, but a relative close to me, who was abused as a child, pointed this out to me.
Field trips with many children is quite the endeavor, anyone who is continuously seeking out that sort of experience may be up to something nefarious. Responsible adults need to stay alert.
The point about quiet children is a very good one. I was never severely sexually assaulted as a child, though the predators were around. I believe I was overlooked because I was always a loud and boisterous one. I’m the type to shout, “Yes I know what that is, and my mother told me if any man shows me that, kick him in it!”
Which, she did. Kudos to my mom. I suspect she told me these things, because she too had been abused. She never admitted this to me, but looking back on her obsession about this, (she had questioned me about inappropriate touching quite often during a time when such things were rarely discussed (1970s) ) what other reason could there be?
In my generation, (I too grew up in a big extended family) others (especially the quiet ones) were targeted. Often times the predators are family members, and that makes the problem even more difficult to tackle.
In conversations that I’ve had with these relatives, as adults, I have noticed my own blind spots to the issues.
Of course they wanted to know, “Did what happen to me, also happen to you?” To which I honestly answered no. The next question was “Did you know this was going on?” And honestly, I suspected something was off with certain adults in our family, but I also trusted other more responsible adults in my family to do something about it.
They didn’t…and even worse they knew these other adults were a problem.
Okay so now, as an adult I am being questioned by my other adult relatives about how and why the responsible adults in our family failed them so badly…and I have no answers. They seemed perfectly capable of protecting children in other ways, why did they fail on this front? I think the reasons are very complex.
The adults questioning me, are trying to figure out, how is it that we continually allow this to happen? I am trying to figure it out too, as I’m a responsible adult with a generation of kids growing up on my watch and It happened to the kids in our younger generation-same way-shady relatives behaving badly.
Like most, I never imagined it could happen to children I knew. I was horrified when I was informed about what the children were saying was happening to them. I actually suspected something was off before they said anything, this is why I say deep in their hearts, responsible adults know…but without proof, it is hard to even know where to begin.
I did kick into high gear to stop the abuse. Believe it or not, even though the abuse was bad and obvious, once the children began talking about it, it wasn’t easy to end it. Parents have the most authority and autonomy over their children’s lives, and if a parent is a part of the abuse, you have quite an uphill battle on your hands with regard to trying to get it to stop.
What parent allows their child to be abused, you might wonder? One who has been abused. These curses run in families, and get inherited from one generation to the next. If your uncle fondled you as a child and you were told, as a child, hey, that’s just the way it is, when you had your own children, why would you think any differently about it?
Because these are a part of generations of dysfunctional behavior, people are often ill equipped to deal with it. The abuse has been normalized within the family and when an outside person or agency says that it is not, the entire family divides and takes sides. It is a very difficult situation for the adults, and it is beyond devastating for the children.
What do you do when you confront a family member with, “I have reason to suspect your child is being abused” and that family member dismisses you? Disregards you or attacks you?
What do you do?
Believe me, there are no easy answers. This is when things get really, really ugly inside a family. I know of what I am speaking, first hand; and I’ve never really spoken publicly about this, as I’m doing here, but I am trying to find a way to speak out about this, because posts like yours let me know, it is necessary. This isn’t going away, and I know first hand the kind of devastation and destruction this problem causes to children and their families.
Being an adult knowing that children you were close to and have a relationship with, were damaged on your watch, brings a certain kind of pain that can just never be undone and can eat at you from the inside out. I feel sick even writing about it right now. And sadly I don’t think I am all that unique.
I think every single one of us, whether we acknowledge it or know it, probably has a child in our life that has been affected by this sickness — and as a society and world we have got to do better.
Educating children, therefore, is key; but also key is learning how to deal with predators, who often times are family members.
We need to all speak out about our experiences as well as get smarter about locating resources and assistance. I am glad that you posted the link to RAINN. That is an awesome resource.
RAINN even counsels predators, and this is necessary, because a lot of these people know what they are doing is wrong and want to get help, but cannot find it. No one wants to counsel them, because no one wants to be responsible for the damage they might inflict on their victims. But what good does this do? Not counseling them? The victims are harmed anyway.
We need to talk about these things within our families, bring these problems to light, optimally before they happen. Because once it happens, and it happens a lot, it is a nightmare unlike any other. The victims are going to live with the consequences of that abuse for the rest of their lives. It is like damaging the soul of a child and innocence itself. I personally cannot think of a worse crime against humanity.
So I personally thank you, for doing your part . This impacts us all, and we must all do our part.