The Subway guy, the political activist, and home-schooling
Turn on the news the past 6 months and you might want to lock your kids at home and throw away the key just to protect them from the world we live in. A child health charity founder and national chain spokesperson pleaded guilty to child pornography and sex with minors. A political activist on the Family Research Council who espouses family values admitted to fondling his younger sisters. A Dallas soccer coach was arrested on multiple charges of indecency with a child. A local Hewitt teacher was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor. Two Dallas teachers were arrested for inappropriate relationships with students and indecency with a child.
What are we as parents supposed to do? Keep our kids inside 24/7, tell them they can’t walk to their friend’s house three blocks away, forbid them from sleepovers, ban them from team sports, home-school them? I can tell you right now, I’m not home-schooling my children. (I’m sorry. Did I just say that a little too quickly? For their own sanity and mine, our kids attend our great public school and we’re all happier for it!)
The answer, of course, is NO. We can’t live in fear. We have to trust that God will protect them and that we have given them the tools to protect themselves. Have you given them the tools? Do you talk to your kids about their bodies? Tell them what private parts are? Tell them how to act around other people? Tell them how to act around other kids? An occasional “don’t show people your privates” won’t suffice. Think about these specific situations in the news lately. Would you have thought a polite, Christian teenager would molest his own siblings? Would you expect a child charity founder to be preying on young children? He even has children of his own! Would you have thought your child’s coach was abusing the athletes under his watch? Could you imagine a teacher texting your daughter and having indecent contact with her? Of course not. But it happens. A lot. Statistics1 show anywhere from 1 in 4 to 1 in 7 girls and 1 in 6 to 1 in 25 boys will be abused by the time they are 18 years old. Generally speaking, that amounts to 1 in 10 children. That’s two children in each classroom. Don’t be fooled into thinking those classrooms are across town from yours. It’s here, there, everywhere. Child sexual abuse does not play favorites.
I remember the first time I observed a child sexual abuse exam as a medical student. The case shattered stereotypes I had conjured in my mind about sexual abuse. The girl was Caucasian, 5 or 6 years old, from a wealthy family, and was abused by her biological father. I was floored. But over the years, I’ve come to realize there are no “stereotypical victims.” Just victims.
So, here’s what you can do to help protect your kids:
1. Please talk to your children about their private parts and keeping them private. You can’t protect them from the evils of this world by ignoring the topic and sheltering them forever. Protect them by educating them and empowering them to say “no.”
2. Discuss stranger danger. It doesn’t happen often, but if a person tries to take your cute little nugget, what should s/he do?
3. Talk about these things often. Every chance you can. Just as often as you tell them “look both ways before you cross the street” and “don’t play with matches.”
4. If you don’t know how to start those conversations, Camp Careful can help you! The classes make this topic easy to understand, engaging for the kids, and non-threatening for everyone. Register for a class on August 30th or September 13th. (The August 30th 7-14 year old class is sold-out. Please check other classes.) https://www.campcareful.com/events/
Empower your kids and stay safe!
Soo Battle, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Statistics reference: Townsend, C., & Rheingold, A.A., (2013). Estimating a child sexual abuse prevalence rate for practitioners: studies. Charleston, S.C., Darkness to Light. Retrieved from www.D2L.org.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this website/blog is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the relationship that exists between you and your pediatrician or doctor. Please contact your doctor for medical advice and/or treatment recommendations specific to your child.
So good Soo! I have felt the weight of ALL these stories lately. You are doing such important work, thank you! Excellent post.
I feel like the statements about the Hewitt teacher are framed a bit sensationalistically (if that’s a word). It would tell a more complete and honest story to say “A local Hewitt father was convicted of sexual abuse of family members.”
As we know now in this era “family and friend danger” is way more likely than “stranger danger” and that’s a conversation that needs to be bad as well.
Actually, my comment about the Hewitt teacher is just that. “A local Hewitt teacher was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor.” No sensationalism there. I completely agree that “stranger danger” is not common at all. Over 90% of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone the child knows. Definitely a conversation we need to have—we discuss this in my classes. Thanks for the comment!
I would like to know more about the camp.
I’m sorry if people are shocked by all these account, but this has gone on forever I’m glad it’s being talked about. It’s not something new, I think it’s new that people admit it.
I don’t know all the details of the Duggar case. But is it really so surprising that a 14 yr old boy might fondle girls including his own sisters? To me it says something was going on that he thought this was ok, but he did confess it to his parents. I in no way condone this behavior. But wouldn’t it be great if all people and teens in particular could say when they had done wrong.
Thank God you also address that it’s not just stranger danger90 % of the abuse is by someone you know.
I love that we can help kids own their bodies that’s powerful. Maybe if we hadn’t hid things with shame for so long, things would and will change for the better.
Thank you Dr Battle for making it “OK” to not shelter our kids but to empower them. And thank you for opening the eyes of the the community that there are dangers everywhere. Not just in the back ally or bus station. It does happen in public school, private school and in the home. As an ER nurse for 20+ years I have seen way more child abuse than I wanted to, but it has made me a smart nurse and an even smarter mom. I hope many parents see this message.
Great job, Soo! We have to talk to our babies! I cringe in my spirit having to have some of these conversations, but I have found God’s grace is sufficient–even in the tough conversations. I agree, if we don’t give them God’s truth on the matter, satan will certainly do his part to take advantage of our inaction and our babies’ naïveté. Love what you’re doing, Soo B.! You’re definitely a Ninja Momma!!!