Years ago when young people talked about getting married and raising a family, I can almost be positive the words “At what age should we begin teaching the dangers of sexual deviants?”
Before allowing our children to attend any activities such as a school field trip, camping, or even a sleep over a friends or family members home we need to explain in a way they will understand that it is not always a stranger or a scary person they have to be aware of. As parents, we are the first ones who need to speak to our children about “good touching and bad touching”.
Experts say that to protect our children from sexual abuse we need to be very aware of how other adults are interacting with them. Today’s media reminds us that we need to be extra vigilant when it comes to allowing our children to belong to an organization that is largely staffed by volunteers. A recent news story about the Boy Scouts of America, a group we all know or possibly participated in, is now trying to defend itself against cross country allegations of child abuse and cover ups. In numerous of these cases, no police report, no charges and now a statute of limitations that have expired for many of those affected.
Most parents are not comfortable enough to explain thoroughly the details about safety and healthy sexuality. As parents we need to tell our children that it is wrong to be touched in a specific way (explaining in an age appropriate manner). Go over it, practice it, and give them the power to say no and the comfort to tell their parents immediately.
“My child is too young to need to know about sexual predators this so soon.” This a sentiment frequently heard by parents. What exactly is too young?
Perpetrators have a very good way with kids. They are practiced. Whether they’re grooming them with attention, gifts or candy with the hope of a long term ‘relationship’ or the quick lure to their car with a kitten or puppy rouse. Many perpetrators know no boundaries, and few children can resist a furry pet.
And there is no ‘safe’ place.
Tina Curl thought she was escaping the dangers of big-city life when she and her family moved from New York to Sioux Fall SD, a medium-size well-kept city along the Big Sioux River and a huge expanse of farmland. Not many homicides happen here, possibly a half dozen a year, with most involving people who know each other.
Tina’s daughter, nine year old Becky O’Connell, left her home in Sioux Falls on May 8, 1990. She was going to walk a couple of blocks to Omer’s Market to buy sugar to make lemonade. The fourth grader never returned.
Donald Moeller, a felon who lived nearby, had lured the young girl into his truck and drove her to a wooded area near the Iowa state line, where he raped her, stabbed her and left her to bleed to death.
Hours after Becky’s private memorial, her mother Tina and her husband moved back to New York.
This week, 22 years later, Becky and her family will finally have justice. After years of appeals Moeller is scheduled to be put to death on Tuesday, October 30 by lethal injection at the state penitentiary. Unable to afford the trip, donations and fundraisers are making it possible for Tina and her husband to make the journey from New York back to Sioux Falls to be present when Moeller draws his last breath.
Predators frequently befriend you, the parent or caregiver to gain access to your child. They often seek out single parent families or those with weak family ties. You know your children the best. Remember to stay alert; if your child is normally a chatty active youngster and you notice a change in their behavior, possibly as subtle as sleeping more than usual, having mood swings or being abnormally quiet and staying to themselves, it’s time to investigate.
These actions could be caused for many reasons, something as simple as a disagreement with a friend or being reprimanded by a teacher, so don’t jump to conclusions. Initiate conversation. Put on your P.I. hat.
Most important to remember is if an allegation of sexual molestation is made, the adult they confide in should react with a supportive caring response, reassuring them they have done the right thing in telling. Be firm but loving when telling them it is not their fault and they are going to be safe and protected. Then call the police.