I did not know this:
You may be surprised to learn that about half of sexual offenses committed against children are by children under the age of 18, usually under the age of 15. Indeed, in the United States, the peak age for committing a sexual offense against a prepubescent child is 14. This may seem surprising, but it makes sense if you consider that children who are just beginning to engage in sexual behaviors are vulnerable to making mistakes and bad decisions.
- They don’t understand consent
- They don’t realize that their younger friends and family members are off-limits
- They don’t know that sexual images of children are illegal
- And we don’t teach them.
I’m quoting Dr. Letourneau above from her speech to the UN. I do not know where her statistics come from, but I am one of those instances. My sexual abuse occurred at the hands of an older child, not an adult pedophile. I suspect that older child had likewise been assaulted, but that does not condone what he did. It does, however, help me understand that I didn’t do anything to cause it, which is important.
Regardless of my story, I am intrigued by this idea that maybe we can prevent a significant number of sexual abuse cases if we understood the danger older children actually pose and figure out ways to prevent it. Certainly, we can all agree that we don’t do enough to teach children early on about consent, about appropriate sexual behavior, etc. We cling to the believe that our kids are too young and we don’t want to take away their innocence, blind to the fact that they may be taking away someone else’s innocence out of their own misguided ideas about sex, which are not being challenged yet.
Maybe we should consider the possibility that these kids know and are exposed to way more than we think they are, and as the saying goes “A little knowledge can be dangerous”.
More knowledge is the fix for that.