There is no way we can completely insulate ourselves from predators. They appear as parents of our children’s friends, coaches, neighbors, relatives, teens, teachers, clergy, babysitters and most recently a local DJ/Dance instructor who has been hired as a DJ by many families and organizations…… including KidSafe Foundation for one of our adult fundraising events. We didn’t know. One of our committee members said she had a DJ Company who would do our event pro bono. She didn’t know. The point is not that we didn’t know – but as we stated above – child molesters walk among us. Are we surprised yes! But shocked….. NO!
But what can we learn from this? The importance of KidSafe’s mission to educate children and adults to recognize the signs of a potential predator “grooming” a child. Predators are savvy, and often in abuse of teens there are many layers of complexity built for the teen even before the abuse begins. To gain the trust of children and adults predators use a technique called grooming. This involves various lures – often for teens the appeal could simply be the attention of an adult male, perhaps money, gifts, alcohol and other drugs. Once the teen has crossed a certain boundary the predator knows they have something they can hold against them and they use this to keep the victim under their power. This is when the abuse begins.
Children who are being abused experience a myriad of feelings including fear of getting into trouble, being at fault, feeling threatened, scared they won’t be believed, confused by what happened, feeling responsible for the predators behavior, fear of the unknown, and so much more, it’s easy to see how they are scared into silence. Most children will never report being abused. We applaud this young girl for coming forward. She is extremely courageous. By reporting, she has stopped this predator from harming others. She got mixed up in a bad situation and hopefully now by sharing her story she will regain some of her power back and begin her own healing process. Why are we sharing this with you? We need to use this story as a teachable moment.. So what can you do as a parent?
Teach your children the difference between a good secret and a bad secret.
There are good secrets and there are bad secrets. A good secret feels good to know and has a time limit – in fact, the person asking you to keep the secret wants you tell. ( A surprise party, a special gift you helped pick out for your brother, something the team is going to give the coach at the end of season.) One thing these all have in common is that they have a beginning and an end. At some point everyone is going to hear about the secret.
A bad secret is something that you know, saw or experienced and feel afraid to tell, worried, confused, scared, and nervous. The person asking you to keep the secret NEVER wants you to tell – that is the exact kind of secret that you NEED to tell- even if you promised not to. NEVER keep that secret. The consequence of a child Not Telling is giving the offender exactly what they were hoping for…..a child’s silence. Fortunately, this child found the courage to tell and in telling has saved other children. This story is all too common, happening every day, in every city, every state, every nation and we will continue to share these stories until one day all children and adults are educated, protected and safe from the predators that walk among us.
For more information on keeping your children safe www.kidsafefoundation.org