Reports of inappropriate relations with children seem to be on the rise these days. Why is that? The more hopeful explanation is that children (and their parents) are savvier and have more ease discussing such issues than those who came before them. This would suggest that incidents have not increased, but the reporting of them has. The more frightening explanation however is that more troubled and/or very immature adults are around our children now.
Pedophilia is not the only classification, as it is all boundary crossing behavior we are discussing. An adult, in a position of authority, who treats a child as an adult is on a slippery slope and is shirking their duties and responsibilities. A teacher befriending a child is not necessarily a cause for alarm, it can be though if the teacher is immature and doesn’t embrace his/her role as an authority figure. A sport coach or scout leader who takes a special interest in one or two children may also cause concern. This is not a ‘boogie man’ “the sky is falling” call to arms. It has always been the case that we need to keep a critical eye on adults who choose to spend time with children.
A physical relationship with a child has no shades of gray. It is inexcusable and intolerable and we should be doing far more to prevent its occurrence. We can not send children to school or camp, wrapped in armor. Instilling them with a fear of adults is a huge disservice and ineffective (as some abuse is at the hands of other children or teenagers.) But there are things we can do.
- We can make our children strong
- A child with strong self-esteem is less likely to be singled out for attention
- A child should know how to stand up and say in a loud clear voice; “NO”
- A child with an empathetic and loving adult in their lives, who spends time with them and is available emotionally is far less likely to respond to the adult attention
- All employees need to be screened
- Psychological tests must be given to all employees whose majority of work involves children
- Medical professionals, teachers, coaches, school bus drivers, custodial staff need all be screened
- Testing will measure two different outcomes; pedophilia and maturity
- A cut-off point for maturity would need consensus but any indication of pedophilia would reject a candidate from the pool
Corporations screen applicants all the time. We already enforce tests for many professions. You can’t (legally) work in a kitchen until you’ve passed the health and safety test. The school bus driver has a special license to get behind the wheel. A clinically designed psychological test should not be seen as an infringement but as a requirement. Is it uncomfortable to consider a doctor or a dentist inappropriately touching a child? Absolutely. Does anyone want to consider how many people go into child-centric professions because of their psychological flaws? Heavens no. But ignoring it won’t make it go away. That’s what children think. The first step to really protecting our children is to act like adults.