There is a lot to unpack in this article, and I hope you’ll go read all of it, but I wanted to touch on this section specifically.
“We really don’t put anything into prevention, and that’s really unfortunate,” Letourneau says. “We have this idea that kids will just know; surely they will know that sex with younger kids is completely, completely off limits. Kids literally don’t know this.”
When it comes to harmful or inappropriate or illegal sexual behavior with prepubescent children, the perpetrators are frequently other children under 18, and often under 15.
“It’s not because these kids intend to harm children; it’s not because they don’t care about the well-being of children. There are literally dozens of pathways – including lack of clear guidance and information, inadequate adult supervision and impulsivity – but one of the largest really appears to be just straight-up inexperience,” Letourneau says.
As parents, educators and community members, we do a good job of conveying that older kids are not to hit, tease or bully younger kids. We do not do a good job of teaching them not to touch genitals.”
I don’t have kids, and generally stray away from giving much parenting advice, but I find a very interesting parallel here. One of the things I generally do get into here with parents is to make sure your kids know at a young age about what is appropriate and what isn’t. Do not let an abuser be the one to teach your kids about what’s “good” and what isn’t, you teach them, and teach them to tell when someone does something that isn’t good, no matter who it is. It occurs to me after reading this article that by doing so, we might also be preventing those same kids from doing things that are not appropriate. We cannot assume they’ll just know.
We can never assume that.