Todays Post is not an easy read.
However, I can assure you – it is of utmost importance. It is a “must” for every parent to get educated about this subject.
Ways to protect our Kids – let’s talk about the Reality of Pedophiles
As I entered motherhood, I discovered this intense feeling I didn’t even know the existence of, before: This deep love for my children, this strong urge to protect them from harm, to protect them from brokenness and pain and to protect them from the madness of this world. Until now, the word “pedophile” gave me chills down my back and I was mainly just thinking about a creepy man in dark clothes hiding on a playground. I knew to (and also did) tell my kids not to go with strangers, not to let anyone touch them “there” and tell us as parents, if anyone was trying to do so or expose himself to the child.
However, a few weeks ago I saw a statement on Twitter from someone I follow:
“Dear fellow pastors: Since this is so confusing to you, let me simplify it for you. Someone told me she was abused by my dad. I went to the police. My dad went to prison. Jesus says to lose your life for others. You’re not even willing to lose your job for them. #ChurchToo “
I found out, that he was the son of a pastor – and that, from the age of 14 until 62 this pastor, a father and husband – was acting out as a pedophile… without anyone seeing it. Not even his wife. She wrote her past experiences on a Blog called “finding a healing place” where she writes about her past journey of being married to a pedophile.
I’ve been reading that whole Blog.
It was painful, brutal, interesting and very, very helpful and educating to do so.
What hit me most was that this pedophile was not that creepy man, trying to get children into his car. This was not that totally antisocial person, of whom everyone saw from afar what he was doing.
He was a pastor. Adored by many. A pillar in his church. People trusted him. He was an amazing father and a seemingly devoted Christian. Nobody – including his eleven children and his wife had a clue what he was doing.
I found some facts about this subject:
- An estimated 60% of perpetrators of sexual abuse are known to the child but are not family members, e.g., family friends, babysitters, child care providers, neighbors.
- About 30% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are family members.
- Only about 10% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are strangers to the child.
Reading that Blog of the former wife, Clara Hinton , reading the comments people posted to what she wrote and reading through the posts of her son Jimmy Hinton who has a website also, talking about this subject (he was the one writing that Twitter post I mentioned above), I became aware of the responsibility we have as parents.
It made me think about a situation I experienced a couple of years ago, when I was one of the leaders in a church environment.
He was the leader of a Christian Organization I knew for quite some years. He was married and with children. He started to behave inappropriately with a fellow female leader. This situation has nothing to do with the subject of pedophilia, but everything with the fact that we didn’t “see” it. His behavior was inappropriate. A leader should not behave that way with a female. But he did. None of us fellow leaders even bothered about it, nor reported what we saw to anyone. Simply because we knew that man, we trusted him and it was unimaginable to think something was not quite right.
Well. In the end the leader divorced his wife, quit his ministry and married that young girl. Shortly after that, he had a baby with her.
I was shaken to my core. Looking back it was obvious. I should have seen it; we should have acted, somehow. But this didn’t even come to our mind. When other persons were questioning his behavior, we fellow leaders where the first ones to defend him.
With that experience it made sense to me, that a pedophile could be anyone I trust in my surrounding. Clara Hinton and her son Jimmy are doing an amazing job to educate and raise awareness… that a mind of a pedophile doesn’t work the same way our mind does. That they don’t see children the way we do. That their whole thinking is not even about sex itself, but rather about control and about manipulation. A pedophile studies the parents of the victim. He studies the victim itself. He builds up trust. He grooms the victim and the parents. He uses the victim, sometimes over a large period of time without anyone seeing anything thing.
There are many more things I could include in this post. Much more information I think is crucial and of great importance for every parent to know.
I strongly recommend to read her blog “findingahealingplace.com” for yourself.
Have a look at this website from her son, Jimmy Hinton (who also is a pastor). It features highly interesting and helpful videos and blog posts as well, from a slightly different perspective.
But for now I will finish this article with a few points I understood in what I can do to protect my children:
Behavior of parents which puts our child at greater risk of being sexually abused:
- Parenting that lacks connection to the child
- The belief that we need to break the will of our child and teach it to submit to any authority.
- An attitude of seeing your child as a rebel, as a liar, a troublemaker etc. will prevent a child from getting away from that situation of abuse, and hinder the child to tell you anything about.
- Voids we leave in a child due to our overfilled schedule, our own preoccupations or our lack of understanding of the importance of our task to nurture our child.
Things we can do to lower the risk for our child to be sexually abused:
- Let’s work on that connection with our kids. In this article I write about six ways to work on the relationship with our entrusted ones.
- We need to educate our kids. The number one thing we can do to help keep our kids safe from predators is to teach them what abuse really is and how to say no.
- Educate ourselves. When we know how to watch out, to protect our kids, we will be bolder to have clear boundaries. We will say “no” to this person who always wants to change the diapers of our baby if that doesn’t feel comfortable for us. We won’t feel bad doing so, either. We get firm and clear about where we will allow our children to go and where we want to stay with our kids (doctor appointments, etc) .
- Accept Reality– Jimmy Hinton says: “When we fail to accept the reality that some of the most trusted, respected, productive people in our churches are perpetrators themselves, we help them to multiply their victims. I speak from experience. I never in a million years dreamed that my own father, a minister himself, was capable of abusing children. It never crossed my mind. He was one of my best friends. Maybe I didn’t want to believe it. But worse, his crimes are crimes that are incredibly easy to hide….“