That’s what Bruce Schneiner suggests is at the root of a story about a woman in South Carolina who was arrested for letting her 9 year old play at a park while she was at work. Now Bruce is an expert on security, and risk assessment and I tend to agree that we don’t assess the risks very well, especially when it comes to very emotional topics like protecting children.
Now, without knowing the kid, the park, the neighborhood, the people in the park, or anything like that, I can’t say how much of a risk this truly was. I was allowed to walk to a neighborhood park as a 9-10 year old by myself for Little League games, so I don’t find the idea of a 9 year old hanging around a park by herself to be as shocking as some others might. I also know the truth about child abductions and abuse, that the vast, vast majority of them are the result of someone the kids already know, not the random stranger on the street. But, the random stranger on the street abducting a child does happen from time to time, and perhaps in this situation, leaving the kid there wasn’t the safest thing in the world. But, it also sounds like maybe there weren’t a lot of options here, which is a whole other blog post that I’ll let someone with kids write!
No, what I want to talk about are the irrational fears we have as a result of media attention. You see it’s the rare and random crime that gets the media attention precisely because it is so rare and random. A child being abducted due to custody disputes, or a child being abused by a family member, doesn’t grad headlines the way these other stories do, so you don’t notice it as much. Unfortunately, our brains are hardwired to pay attention to the risks that we see and hear, and those are the ones that make big news, rather than the risks that we take everyday.
So, it’s the “stranger danger” risks that grab our attention, because the stories are horrifying, but also because it’s the type of risk we feel like we can do something about. Managing the real risks of children being abused is hard. Figuring out how to keep kids safe from the much more likely risk, the people already around them, requires a lot more work and good ideas. But people don’t want to acknowledge the real rate of victimization, or imagine that kids are being abused by people they already know! It’s too scary to think about!
In light of yesterday’s news about Robin Williams, lots of folks have been reaching out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media to share their own stories of depression and other mental health issues, or make sure folks know where to go to get help, and that there is help for mental illness.
I even shared out my post from a couple of years ago about my story with suicide on Twitter and Facebook as well. It has been heartwarming to see so many, from all walks of life, coming out of the darkness and sharing their own struggles. I hope it’s something that continues. We all could do with feeling less alone.
TED Talks shared this playlist that I thought many of you might want to take a look at.
There’s quite a lot there, real stories from real people dealing with metal health issues. Exactly more of the kinds of stories we need to be talking about if we hope to stop losing good people to the lies their illness is telling them!
I’m going to be hosting the monthly Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse here this month. Since this is a month where I am facing some big changes in life, including moving across the country at the end of it, I thought why not look into the topic of change. As survivors, change can be terrifying. We are comforted by control and predictability, so change isn’t something that we naturally look forward to. But it doesn’t have to stay that way! I’d love to hear from some folks this month who have managed to embrace change, make changes in their own lives, and how they’ve overcome this fear of change!
As always, we will have the regular topics as well and I look forward to seeing all of you submitting a post, old or new, for this month’s carnival!
-Advocacy and Awareness
-Healing and Therapy
-In the News
To submit an article, you can fill out this submission form. To find out more about this “Blog carnival” thing, you can check out Tracie’s page for more details. The deadline for submissions is Weds. Aug 27. The carnival will go live on Friday Aug 29, the day before I move actually.
Now let’s put together a chorus of survivor’s voices for this month’s carnival and show the world that we’re out here!
A few weeks back, Patricia wrote about being an advocate, and being accused of being “stuck in victim mode” because she continued to talk about child abuse.
It’s something that I’ve been thinking about too. Part of that thought process had to do with some cleaning up of old links that I’ve been doing on the blog, and seeing how many survivors have simply stopped blogging and dropped out of the online community, as well as thinking about some of the things I see online about healing in general.
First, before I even get into my thoughts, let’s make one thing clear. All survivors are individuals, and what works for some, may not work for others. Whether you feel lead to continue being an advocate, or sharing information like I do here, or Patricia does, or if you’d rather spend your time with other interests and put this behind you, is totally your choice. Part of being healed is giving yourself the ability to make your own decisions and have control over those decisions. Far be it for me, or anyone else, to demand otherwise.
On the other hand, part of being healed is being more than “just” a child abuse survivor. That can be a tricky line to walk. I’ve been at this blog for 12+ years now, and it’s still tricky. In fact, maybe it gets trickier the longer I go on, because it would be easy for someone who doesn’t know me to look at this site and come to the conclusion that I’ve been going on and on for almost 13 years about being a survivor of child abuse. Wow, talk about someone who is stuck!
I was dismayed, though not surprised at all, when I saw a number of Facebook users and pages link to an article about an inmate convicted of child molestation being murdered in prison.
The posts were, for the most part, followed by near unanimous comments celebrating the death of a pedophile.
Look, I get it. I don’t have sympathy for the guy either. But we have to seriously think about what we want to accomplish when it comes to dealing with pedophiles, and the message we are sending to kids. Here are some facts:
- We know children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and trust, someone who is either part of their family or a close friend of the family.
- We know the abuser is more than likely going to groom the child, and the family, in order to create a bond with the child.
- We know abusers are manipulative, and use that bond to convince children not to tell, because it would cause bad things to happen.
- We know Stockholm syndrome is a very real thing.
- We know these kids have been traumatized and the only way to encourage more children to speak up about what is happening to them is for them to feel safe in telling.
- We know most abused children do not tell anyone because they don’t feel safe.
So how is running around talking about how anyone who abuses a child deserves to be killed in horrible ways going to help a child feel safe and secure about telling? Are we not handing an abuser a manipulation tool to be used against our own kids? (“Look if you tell, your parents will kill me, and you don’t want to be the cause of someone’s death, do you?”)
Lastly, wouldn’t that death just be adding more trauma onto kids who have already been traumatized enough?
Hey we know you were abused and you’re going to have a hell of a time dealing with everything that goes along with that, so in the name of “justice”, we’re going to go out and kill the sicko and then let you go ahead and add the guilt of someone’s death to your therapy bill, cool?
I’m not going to get into a disagreement over what is “just” and “fair”. That’s not my concern, and it shouldn’t be yours. Our concern should be what is the best way to help this child get help and heal. Adding more trauma doesn’t do that!
In my quest to try every new piece of social media tech that exists, (that might be a bit of hyperbole, but not by much!) I have penned a piece with some career advice called The Appreciation File over on LinkedIn.
It did not escape my notice, however, that this same bit of helpful advice could also apply to healing from abuse, or helping with depression, or whatever else you might be struggling with.
So, fellow survivors, start hanging on to cards, notes and emails thanking you for something. Then on the rough days, go back through the stack and remind yourself of all the good you have done, and continue to do, all the worth you have and all the value you bring to others. Also, make sure you’re letting people know the value they have, so they can start building their own file!
If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate it if you went over to LinkedIn and shared the plan with your own contacts! Thanks!
Dr. Robert K. Ross giving a Tedx Talk at Ironwood State Prison. In it he talks about the long lasting effects, physical and emotional, of repeated childhood trauma. He also talks about courage and resiliency that can not only overcome the trauma, but better ourselves through it.
I have to admit, some survivors are some of the most courageous and resilient people I know. Others are the most self-destructive people I know, and some of those turn into the former category. This helps explain what is really going on.