So this article, “How to spot a pedophile,” was written for some Australian online news source back in September. Someone sent it to me last week and I’ve been reading it over and over trying to make sense of how this article really speaks to what we're teaching our little ones about the worst bad guy in the world. The sex offender.
Okay let’s break this article down. The idea is to alert you of what to look out for to protect your children from molesters. This is important because it’s hard to know how to protect your kids from this kind of danger, yes? YES. However, if you just read this article through – you would come away with the idea that pretty much anyone and everyone who is not a woman is a pedophile. In fact, the writer says the first person to look out for is “everyman.” Do you know any men? Then they are probably pedophiles. Are you a man? Well, I hate to break it to you, but you are a disgusting pedophile.
This is reminiscent of American comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s routine of “You might be a redneck if…” For you Canadians, I’ll briefly illustrate. He goes around making fun of rednecks saying such gems as: “If you ever mow the lawn and find a car? You might be a redneck.” Or “If you think loading the dishwasher means getting your wife drunk? You might be a redneck.” It’s American hilarity! HA! YEE HAW. Don’t mess with Texas.
Anywhoo. Let’s do that redneck thing with the article. Only replace redneck with pedophile.
According to this article:
Do you have a male relative? He’s a pedophile.
Is your son coached by a male? Both your son and the coach are pedophiles.
Are you married to a man? He’s a pedophile.
Do you know a man who’s a “good looking charmer”? He’s a pedophile.
Are you a male photographer? You’re a pedophile.
I'm poking a little fun at this article - but this subject is NOT funny. It’s not. It’s awful. It’s a living nightmare. I see the photos in the article and I cringe. I want to skin these predators alive. Those poor, poor victims. I'm so very, very sorry to the victims who now have to live with and suffer from the damage inflicted on them - forever. An extremely serious subject, indeed.
Here's my point:
If the bad guy is everyone, we are always afraid.
Which means we are making our children afraid, not aware. And that's wrong. We don't want to create a culture of potential victims, we want to create a culture of awareness and empowerment.
How are we potentially creating a culture of victims? By sheltering our kids so much that half the time we don’t even tell them what to do if they do in fact get into a bad situation. We simply don't need to. We are there in their faces ALL OF THE TIME so there’s no real reason to tell them what potential dangers are and how they can spot them. Because we’re always standing right there.
Yeah I know we’ve told them about stranger danger. We even gave it a cute rhyming name. But teaching our kids to be AFRAID is not the same as teaching them to be AWARE. We should be empowering them so we can comfortably give them space to grow. Because if they never have a chance to practice awareness, what happens when a potentially horrible situation arises?
PLEASE DO THIS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE:
Tell them to trust their instincts.
Talk about what instincts are. Tell a story about how you had to rely on your instincts. Maybe you saw a person driving erratically so you slowed down and they had a wreck. Maybe you felt something and didn’t find out the ultimate consequence like the wreck – but feel good that you acted on your feelings.
Tell them -If you feel bad? Then it’s bad.
Ask them to think of a time they used their instincts? Tell them not to worry about if they turn out to be mistaken. They will not be the first person to make a mistake. But odds are they probably aren’t going to be mistaken. Because of that feeling. Give them real-life situations and ask them what they would do.
I cannot stress this enough. Tell them to trust their feelings. Go with their gut. This will help them in more than just “everyman” situations too. It will help them with friends and other circumstances. This is vital especially as they grow up. Give them a chance to use their instincts. Give them some room to breathe - so that they can practice using them. Remember this blog?
Do these things.
You can try, Helicopters, to stay around 24 hours a day. You can try to manage their lives, decisions, and choices for as long as you can. You can mingle with every person they interact with. You can be on guard. But I promise you that everything isn’t always as it seems and you won’t be there for at least one time. Maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s when they are in college, but it will happen.
What happens when they look to you for answers and this one time you’re not there? Will they know to listen to that that uneasy feeling that they are experiencing? Will they know not to brush it off?
Savvy children are prepared children— prepared children are empowered children— empowered children have the best chance of not being victimized.
It’s not a catch-all – but God willing – it will catch most.