Why I’m Not Taking the Advice of an “Expert” on Child Molesting

A comment on my post, “Of Peanuts and Pedophiles,” included a link to a Salon story on child sexual abuse. Voila: http://tinyurl.com/cc2qys .

It’s a disturbing piece, by a guy who worked for a year in a treatment center for juveniles who have raped and molested other kids. Hearing their histories gave him a, “peek inside a dark world I never wanted to see.” A peek so disturbing, he wrote, that he never even hired a babysitter after that. “The risk wasn’t worth the reward of a night on the town or attending an event for my own enjoyment.” From his (tortured) perspective, he couldn’t trust anyone – even a 13-year-old girl in pigtails- not to be a sexual sadist.

The young molesters he was dealing with not only raped repeatedly, they were arsonists.  And, no surprise, they’d all been molested when they were younger, too. You just can’t t get sadder or more upsetting than that, which is why I must reject the man’s advice:

 “Don’t trust your children with anyone. .. Trust no one. No babysitter. No friend of your child’s. No adult. No kid. No one.”

Look, I doubt I’d be able to trust anyone, either, if I worked all day in a prison filled with rapists. That was pretty much the writer’s experience. In working with incredibly troubled youth – kudos to him – his outlook got seriously skewed. If you ate dinner every night, year after year, with Hannibal Lechter, chances are you would beg us, in desperate tones, “For the love of God, NEVER order the filet!”

Personally, we’d understand where you were coming from. We’d even appreciate – a little, I guess – learning about the darkness most of us never confront.

But then we’d have to discount your counsel, because your experience is so far removed from everyday life. What you think of as “common,” isn’t.  Most kids are not rapists. (And, for the record, most grown-ups are not cannibals.)

Naturally, many people who read the Salon piece will see it as confirmation of their worst fears. They will clutch their children even closer, because it fits right in with the stories we see on the news and on the crime shows about the worst of the worst. This steady diet of doom is warping our view of the world just as working with mini rapist/arsonists warped the author’s. It can get to the point where his advice sounds like just good ol’ common sense: Where your kids are concerned, trust no one.

“I hope it will make parents PRUDENT not paranoid,” he wrote.

But if we trust no babysitter, no teacher, no play date, ever, the only thing left is for us to watch our children 24 hours a day. Literally. Never let them out of our sight.

That’s not childhood, that’s lockdown.

For the kids who committed no crime at all.     

— Lenore

P.S. By the way, people who trust no one, ever, ARE paranoid. Not prudent.