It’s something I’ve advocated for over the years but today I came across a quote on Cecil Murphey’s blog that sums it up perfectly:
Looking back, I now know she chose me even before she talked to me. I’m sure she spotted the longing in my eyes and the loneliness that I projected out of my hurts and agony. As I would learn later, when we’re chosen, they watch us before they target us. They especially seek the lonely and abused children who display their vulnerability by the way they walk, their clothes, general demeanor, or the helplessness in their eyes. They sense their lack of family support or their susceptibility. Only later could I see that my own identity was fragile and distorted. Then I would realize she had chosen me because she knew I was defenseless and lonely.
Cecil’s post is specifically talking about situations where kids who were already being abused were easy targets, as if they were wearing a sign, but it goes deeper than that. Kids who are “defenseless and lonely”, kids with no stable family to turn to, kids starved for any kindness or attention are the kinds of kids that predators look for. They are the ones who can be manipulated, have no one to tell their secrets to, and are vulnerable. If we really wanted to do the hard work of protecting children from predators, and in turn also raise adults less likely to be victimized as well, we’d do everything we can to make sure we do not raise kids who are walking around wearing such signs.
That is the one thing you can do starting right now. There’s no need for a new law, or to wait for social services to be available to you, before working to raise children who are not defenseless and vulnerable, but rather know they have allies and support.
Survivors, how much difference would it have made if you had grown up knowing that you could turn to someone, anyone, with your secrets? Most of us were abused for years because of the lack of that in our lives. If we provide kids that, it makes them that much less likely to be targeted.