Why is this so hard for so many people to understand? Why are some of you so dead-set on causing harm to people who are different than you? If your religious leaders encourage you to harm people or treat any other group of human beings as anything less than human, they are not to be taken seriously. We need to stop giving these leaders our attention or our money.
Since you didn’t, and school isn’t allowed to, teach them someone else will. It might be online or in person, but there is nothing more attractive to real pedophiles than kids who lack the basic skills and open communication with adults to tell on them.
Kids who are aware of their bodies and their place in the world can openly talk about sex with trusted and safe adults, understand what it means to be LGBTQ in some basic fashion and what to do when someone makes them feel threatened, making for poor targets. That’s not grooming; that’s teaching them basic self-defense. That’s teaching them the truth and the basics of reality.
I know a lot of supporters and people in the child abuse community don’t want to hear this, but I will not stand by while we practice things that make children less safe. Lacking knowledge about these topics does that. You’re not protecting them. You’re endangering them.
That’s our blind spot. We’re so busy looking for creepy, anti-social, stereotypes that we miss the charming abusers right in our midst, and we miss all the signs and hints that our kids might be dropping because we just didn’t stop to consider that adult to be dangerous. We just assumed they were safe, and our kids would somehow know better anyway.
Clearly, that strategy isn’t working.
No one should be thrown into online, or offline, society without meaningful education about things like consent, what constitutes illegal behavior, the signs of grooming and so on. It’s just setting them up for failure, and victimization. Why would we do that to anyone? Or do people with intellectual and development disabilities not deserve that same consideration?
If nothing else, I hope you’ll go read the article for two reasons. One, to recognize how difficult it can be to come forward, and have leaders dismiss your claims, so that you know how not to run any organizations that you and your kids are involved with, and two, to recognize how certain cultural values create a space for abusers. Churches rely on charismatic leaders, but without proper safeguards and oversight, you’ll attract some very charismatic evildoers too. Also, understand that environments with such a strong focus on sexual purity, create a culture where kids are desperate to not do the “worst thing” and are susceptible to this kind of grooming, not to mention a lot of shame around a very natural subject. That shame only increases the secrecy around sex, and again creates a place where secrets can thrive. DO NOT BE A PLACE WHERE SECRETS THRIVE!