Psalm 127:3 Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
Protecting our kids from predators – this topic is a rather heavy, difficult one. It is one that I really would rather avoid, one that is rarely discussed in Christian circles. Perhaps, as Christians, we feel that our family is exempt from being a victim of sexual abuse. However, the statistics are staggering: 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. It is estimated that there are 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in America today, and perhaps you are one. These are the saddest statistics I have read and I want to see these children protected.
As a mom, I’m one of those super protective types, always have been. Why? Because I’m one of those 60 million and I don’t want what happened to me to ever happen to one of my kids. I have rarely talked about my experience, but I was molested by a family relative when I was 11 years old. In fact, 93% of this type of abuse is by someone the family knows. My intent is not to tell my story but to help parents and children avoid this, if at all possible. I have forgiven my perpetrator and God has given me complete peace and I pray he uses it in my life to help others also. I believe that God used this in my life to bring me to Christ. I was a hurting teen and God showed me his pure love through Christ’s death on the cross. I believe that Jesus Christ is the answer to all sin that is in this world. I believe that a child molester cannot be healed or really helped apart from trusting Christ. Sexual predators seem to often be repeat offenders. The man in my case went on to do much worse to other kids, and my parents regretted not pressing charges. When I told my parents, they confronted the man. He confessed but they agreed not to press charges if he moved away. He did move across the country but wasn’t changed. 20 years ago I wrote him a letter telling him I forgave him and the forgiveness he could find in Christ. He later wrote me and said that he did trust Christ. I pray that is true.
How can we protect our children from these predators? Is it possible? Yes, I believe it is to a great degree. I know we can’t put our kids in a bubble (though that would be nice), but we can be diligent and not passive. Too many parents are passive in the rearing of their children. Frankly, parents are too busy to really concentrate on their kids. Our children are the greatest blessing God has given us. God has entrusted their care to us! I believe that we have to be very diligent in our parenting. Here are a few basic things to help us in protecting our kids:
1. Know where your kids are – I know this seems basic, but I’m astonished to see parents just let their kids roam the stores, play outside alone, or even be at church roaming around by their self. It takes just a minute for something to happen to them. My nine year old plays outside, but only with friends, and I check on him constantly. When he was younger, he only was out if I sat on the porch. Don’t be lazy and let your kids be out of sight. I have watched people in churches so engrossed in conversation that they have no idea where their children are. I know church should seem safe (that’s not always the case, though), but you should know where they are and what they’re doing.
2. Know who they are with – Do you really know your kids’ friends or their friends’ family? Our children rarely sleepover at someone’s house, we have to know them very well! If your child is nervous or doesn’t feel comfortable around a person don’t have them babysit or around your child. What about those influencing your kids, do you really know them? Sometimes we think we know them, but we really don’t. I homeschool my kids for several reasons, one of which is I know who their teacher is! She’s not great but she has the best of intentions towards them and loves them more than anyone elseJ I think it is a good rule for adults not to ever be alone with a child or teen of the opposite sex.
3. Know what they’re doing online – The internet is a tool that predators use to lure children. 1 out of 5 teens have been solicited sexually online and only 25% tell their parents. My daughter doesn’t have a Facebook account but if she did I would want to know who her friends are and such. My daughter has a blog and I check it all of the time. We talk about the dangers of the internet and she is very careful not to give personal information.
4. Know your surroundings – Whenever we have moved, I have always checked the online database of registered sex offenders to be sure we weren’t moving next to someone on the list. I remember when we lived in Florida and the authorities informed us that a sex offender had moved to our neighborhood. I printed his picture off and showed it to my kids.
I hope this helps. I don’t think we should be “paranoid parents” and hope I didn’t sound that way! I do however believe we should be “praying parents”. We should pray for so many things for our children. One of those things should be for God to protect them and for us to have wisdom in raising them!
I think I will write next month or so on “helping those who have been sexually abused.” Think of it this way: what if I was a Sunday school teacher for a class of 15 teen girls? Statistically speaking, 5 of them may have been a victim of sexual abuse. What could I do to be a help to them. Actually, years ago my husband was a youth leader and I counseled several girls who had been abused. We really aren’t doing enough to reach out to these who have been abused. We will cover that subject next time.