“From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.”
–1 in 6 U.S. women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape
–1 in 5 girls & 1 in 20 boys experience childhood sexual abuse
–Child sexual abuse is underreported, and can also include such noncontact forms as exposure, voyeurism and child pornography. (Sources: rainn.org, victimsofcrime.org)
It doesn’t just happen to girls, although girls are the most frequent victims.
Offhand, I can think of three male relatives who, when they were young, were sexually assaulted in places that should have been safe.
One, a kindergartner, was playing in a brightly-colored plastic tube at fast food restaurant’s playground when another boy grabbed his rear and squeezed it. (He told an adult immediately; the child’s guardian was informed and immediately corrected the other child.)
Another little boy was at school when two fellow students, a girl and a boy, thought it would be funny to touch his private areas and see how he reacted. He told a teacher, a school police officer and his parents. Enough was said so that those students did not repeat the offense, although he wanted the two, known as “good kids,” to get more than the warning they received.
The last, almost ready for preschool, was watching TV when he was sexually assaulted by an adult woman who was his babysitter. As a mom, I cannot imagine the horror of learning that someone you have trusted and paid to keep your child safe, has in fact abused your precious, beloved child.
Friends of mine learned that their son was being abused by an older teen their family trusted—only because they happened to check their son’s text messages one day.
Another friend’s nephew was caught inappropriately touching other children—more investigation revealed he was re-enacting behavior acted out on him, by an adult he knew.
[bctt tweet=”We are called to protect vulnerable people, especially women and children. ” username=”womenoftheelca”]
Because of these and other true stories, my husband and I:
- Began talking with our sons, beginning at age 2, in age-appropriate language, about the fact that they (and their doctor, if one of their parents is present) are the only ones allowed to touch their private areas.
- Tell our kids they will never be in trouble and should immediately tell us or another trusted grownup if someone touches them inappropriately.
- Installed security filters and controls on our oldest son’s smartphone.
- Made sure they knew “the facts of life” way before the school offered instruction in this area, and way before other children might offer confusing or incorrect information.
- Tell our kids the truth whenever they ask a difficult question—or if the truth is too advanced, we simply say we can’t give them a complete explanation until they are older.
- Continue to talk regularly with our kids about their bodies and safety.
We are called to protect vulnerable people, especially women and children. Throughout scriptures, God hears and takes the side of the vulnerable, including the sexually mistreated. Yes, we live in the face of evil. But we also wait for and watch the coming of God’s reign, where God’s love and justice can be seen in human hearts and lives.
Elizabeth Hunter is editor of Gather magazine.
Read a recent blog about a personal experience with childhood sexual assault and eradicating that shame that comes with it.