Posts Tagged ‘community’

“He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.” (John 10:12)

Many Christians in mainline denominations have expressed righteous sadness and outrage at the sexual crimes within the Catholic Church. And yet refuse to acknowledge the same sin within their own churches and homes. 

And those who speak out about sexual abuse in churches are often shamed in an attempt to quiet them. They may be accused of seeking attention, or of trying to bring down a godly man. They may be told to be quiet or they will be causing shame on the congregation and will cause people to turn away from the church and spend an eternity in hell because of the poor light they’ve portrayed the church in. After all, these abusers don’t just groom victims—they groom congregations and communities, in hopes that the majority will rise up and protect them.

Many church leaders try to deal with sexual abuse “in house” in order to keep their “little secret” from the community because they are more concerned about their reputation in the community than they are for the victims of sexual abuse. Ironically, this is the same method used by almost all pedophiles—Keep it secret, threaten and shame their victims. The result of all of this is that many young people are leaving their churches and even leaving behind their traditional faith.

According to a new study sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources, 10 percent of Protestant churchgoers under 35 have previously left a church because they felt sexual misconduct was not taken seriously.  Among the younger demographic, 9 percent said they have stopped attending a former congregation because they personally did not feel safe from misconduct. 

“I believe the gaps are generational in that the younger generation has had it with fakery, and they are bent toward telling it like it is, whereas older generations grew up with the ‘don’t tell secrets’ unwritten mandate. To be sure, both ages have experienced sexual abuse, but younger believers are more apt to share them,” said Mary DeMuth, a survivor of child sexual abuse and an advocate.

More than 90 percent of church goers said their churches were safe places for children, teens, and adults, and more than 80 percent believed their leaders would not cover up misconduct and would bear the cost of addressing incidents correctly, LifeWay found. 

These findings reveal that congregations assume the best about themselves and assume the best about their leadership. Unfortunately, these churchgoers’ optimistic views do not match up with the reality of a majority of churches. 

In spite of the #metoo movement and so many speaking out and publicly, sharing their own experiences of sexual abuse, major investigations have still uncovered hundreds of victims among Protestant churches, while allegations of abuse among missionary kids and within other evangelical organizations continue to come out. 

In 1 Corinthians 5 the apostle Paul had to deal with a similar problem in a congregation. His advice? “Shouldn’t you rather have been stricken with grief and removed from your fellowship the man who did this?” 

Jesus said that we are the light of the world. This sin needs to be stopped and repented of! Otherwise, our light will be snuffed out. 

It is a sad day indeed when the world tells the Church it needs to repent…and they’re right.

Some may wonder why I’m so passionate about being an advocate for abused children and survivors of child sexual abuse.

Maybe it’s because I was abused as a child myself—verbally, emotionally, physically and sexually. Maybe it’s because of the trauma I suffered I ended up in the hospital for anemia. Maybe it’s because I became a target for even more abuse and bullying throughout my school years. 

And because I desired so much to be accepted and loved that I suffered many failed relationships and a few failed marriages. But in spite of all this I still tried to serve God the best way he could: Ministering to the homeless, organizing youth events in churches, starting a home Bible study group, using my musical talents to reach others for God. But it seemed that nothing I did worked out.  

To make things worse, Christians ridiculed me for my “new beliefs” while unbelievers accused him of being gay because I didn’t chase after women. But there is one person who truly loves me and continues to believe in me. A few years after reconnecting with a girl I knew from high school, we were married and have been happily married for over 12 years now.

Maybe I became an advocate for abused children because a trusted friend from church ended up sexually abusing my own 13 year old son. Maybe it’s because I reported it to CPS and nothing was done. Or maybe it’s because me and my wife discovered that our own grandchildren were abused as children. Maybe it’s because I have witnessed how perpetrators convicted of child sexual abuse are only sentenced to probation and allowed to have contact with other children.

But even after all I’ve been through, I still refuse to remain silent about those who have experienced childhood sexual abuse. I writes to legislators, asking them to change the sex offender registry laws, I write to judges, asking them not to be so lenient on those convicted of child sexual abuse.  And even though I have not received any positive responses, I am even more determined than ever to be a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves.  

Maybe you feel the same way—That nothing that you have tried has worked out. But Thomas Edison once said, “I didn’t fail. I just found 2,000 ways not to make a lightbulb; I only needed to find one way to make it work.” 

I didn’t fail to serve God. I just found several ways NOT to serve God. I only needed to find that one thing that God wanted me to do. And I think I found it in being a strong advocate for victims and survivors of child abuse like me.  

If you are a survivor of child abuse, maybe you too should consider being an advocate. It will not only help heal those who have survived childhood trauma, it will also help you to heal as well. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

One Thing

When most people think of the homeless, they think of the mentally ill, drug addicts or alcoholics that would rather live off of the money they beg for on the street than to get a real job. But there is a large part that makes up a much darker side of the homeless community: Homeless youth. 

Homelessness among young people is a serious issue. Homeless youth in our communities are individuals who lack parental, foster or institutional care. They are the ones who have become invisible to most and an irritation to some.The National Runaway Switchboard estimates that on any given night there are approximately 1.3 million homeless youth living unsupervised on the streets, in abandoned buildings, with friends or with strangers. Homeless youth are at a higher risk for physical abuse, sexual exploitation, mental health disabilities, substance abuse, and death. It is estimated that 5,000 unaccompanied youth die each year as a result of assault, illness, or suicide. 

Common Reasons Why Youth Become Homeless:

Family problems: Many youths run away, and in turn become homeless, due to problems in the home, including physical and sexual abuse, substance abuse of a family member, and parental neglect. In some cases, youth are asked to leave the home because the parents cannot afford to care for them.

Transitions from foster care: Youth who have been involved in the foster care system are more likely to become homeless at an earlier age and remain homeless for a longer period of time. Youth aging out of the foster care system often have little or no income support and limited housing options and are at higher risk to end up on the streets.

Abuse in Foster Care

When there is suspicion of abuse or neglect in the home, child welfare services may intervene and the child can be removed from the family and be placed into protective services and eventually into foster care. Unfortunately, many of these children end up being abused and neglected in the foster homes that were supposed to be a safe haven for them. As a result, homeless youth often become frustrated and rather than continuing to endure the abuse, they resign themselves to a life on the streets alone. 

According to a report issued by Julie Rogers, the inspector general of Nebraska Child Welfare, At least 50 Nebraska children, some as young as 4 years old, had suffered sexual abuse while in the state’s care or after being placed in an adoptive or guardianship home from July 2013 through October 2016. All of the cases were reported to the state’s child abuse hotline and all were substantiated, either by the courts or by child welfare officials. Few details were released on the cases. According to another report issued by Rogers, sexual abuse and suicidal behavior among children in the care of the state increased again last year. There were 45 reports of child sexual abuse during 2017-18.

During the same 2017-18 period, there were two suicides and 52 suicide attempts involving youths whose care falls under the state umbrella. The previous year, there had been one suicide and 45 suicide attempts. The 52 attempts involved 49 youths, three of whom made multiple attempts. 

Research has shown that 43% of runaway and homeless youth were sexually abused before they left their homes. These young people often flee abuse at home or in foster care, but are exposed to further sexual victimization and human trafficking once on the street. One of every three teens on the street will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours after leaving home. And the average age of entry into prostitution is fourteen. 

These children often grow up in broken and dysfunctional homes where love and affection are absent. Instead of protection, many times these children receive brutal treatment. Their self-esteem is beaten to the point of feeling unworthy of any respect or fair treatment. They are insulted, humiliated, threatened, yelled at and isolated. They endure repeated sexual abuse—sometimes from several perpetrators. All of these factors may contribute to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional problems which lead them to start using drugs as a way to cope. 

28% of youth living on the street and 10% of those in shelters engage in what is often referred to as “survival sex”. (Exchanging sex for money, food, drugs or a place to stay) Most of these children come from horrific living conditions. They find themselves vulnerable, desperate, and in need of surviving. They require basic needs like food and shelter; therefore, they give into survival sex. 

The situation for these youth is dire. But there is help available for homeless youth in our community. The Youth Emergency Services (YES) has a shelter that is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week with youth workers, counselors and homeless youth advocates. The shelter is available to youth ages 16 to 20.

Youth seeking shelter services are screened to ensure appropriate placement and safety of the residents. The emergency shelter is a family-style residence with separate sleeping areas for male and female clients. Youth share meals, television and computer privileges, and recreation and laundry facilities in a community area.

A trained staff of counselors, advocates and youth workers spends individual, focused time with residents to help them work through the problems they face. YES exists to help these youth turn their lives around. You can find out more about YES volunteer opportunities and ways to to help at: https://www.yesomaha.org 

We need to change our mindset and preconceived ideas about these helpless children that lead us to make erroneous conclusions. Many of us may have looked the other way and denied ourselves the opportunity to help. It may be that the assumptions made in regards to the homeless youth are what is preventing us from aiding and reaching out to them. If we did, perhaps there would not be over one million of our youth living on the streets each year in the United States.

 

If you were asked what the most critical problems facing our society today are, how would you answer? Poverty? Crime? Drug abuse? Sex Trafficking? What if I told you that most of these problems could be reduced or even eliminated? Most of these problems all stem from the same root cause: Child abuse and neglect.

Studies have shown that victims of child sexual abuse are at a higher risk for substance abuse problems, associated psychological disorders and/or mental problems. They are also at a higher risk for committing violent crimes. And yet when we hear of one of these abused children being arrested and convicted of crimes we seem to have little or no compassion for them.

According to a report released by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost half of the women and one tenth of the men in our nation’s jails and prisons say they were physically or sexually abused as a child before their imprisonment. For prisoners who had spent part of their childhoods in foster care, the rate of abuse was even higher. 44% of the male prisoners and 87% of the female prisoners who had spent the majority of their childhood in foster care or institutions reported abuse. These were foster homes that were supposed to be a safe place for them to live!

These experiences are deeply traumatizing for a child and have long-lasting and profound impacts on them. Child abuse, which includes sexual, physical, emotional and child neglect, is a major social problem in our country. In ‘Does Child Abuse Cause Crime?’ (NBER Working Paper No. 12171), authors Janet Currie and Erdal Tekin found that child maltreatment roughly doubles the probability that an individual engages in many types of crime.

This does not mean that every victim of child abuse will grow up to commit crimes or become a drug addict. It simply means that they are at a higher risk. That is why it is so important for school counselors and teachers to become familiar with the many ways in which childhood abuse and neglect issues can manifest themselves in a child. At the same time, they must realize that disclosure of child abuse does not always happen as as quickly as they would hope. Many times it may take a victim several months to reveal the abuse—sometimes years. I have known many adults who have never revealed their childhood abuse until they were over 60 years old!

The question many ask is, “Why don’t children tell someone about their abuse?” There are many reasons why a child victim of sexual abuse is not likely to tell anyone about their abuse. Often, the abusive adult will convince the child that they won’t be believed. Children frequently remain silent to protect a non-abusive parent from becoming upset. In order to keep the abuse secret, the abuser will often play on the child’s fear, embarrassment or guilt about what happened, convincing them that no one will believe them or that telling anyone will break up the family and it will be the child’s fault. 

Another reason kids don’t tell is because they may know friends who have also been abused at home and went to court. Not only did their friend not receive justice, they also ended up in foster care for a while. So they don’t tell anyone. They just try to forget about it and keep all the hurt inside—And so does their family.

Many times an abuser could be someone you’re close to or in a relationship with. Children of single mothers are especially vulnerable. The mom is so busy working to pay bills and put food on the table, (Sometimes working two or three jobs) that she may not imagine someone whom she invited into her home would have intentions of harming her children. But it has been proven that children living with only one biological parent are 33 times more likely to be sexually abused than children who live with both their biological parents.

Watch for the signs

So how can we know who to trust? We need to read the signs. Someone may be a danger to your children if they:

  • Insist on physical affection such as kissing, hugging or wrestling even when the child clearly does not want it. 
  • Insist on time alone with a child with no interruptions. 
  • Are overly interested in the sexual development of your child or teenager. 
  • Regularly offer to baby-sit children for free or take children on overnight outings alone. 
  • Buy your children expensive gifts or give them money for no apparent reason. 

Lastly, check to see if the person you’re in a relationship with is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry—Not just the local registry. Because a registered sex offender will not volunteer his or her information. And if found out, will most often tell you how they were unjustly convicted. Also be aware that many sex offenders will move away from the state they lived when they were convicted without notifying the state where they move to. Because they know that authorities will not look for them unless they commit another crime.  

We all feel shock and outrage whenever we hear of child sexual exploitation by a teacher, coach or religious instructor, but stories of a child being sexually abused by a parent, step-parent, or someone living in the same home as the child rarely receives even a blip on the local news.

Why is it so easy for us to ignore these lost children? 

Maybe because it’s easier for us to ignore the root problem than to work on a solution. To begin with, we need to work to change the court system when it comes to dealing with those convicted of child sexual abuse. When someone is convicted in court, most judges allow the perpetrators to plead guilty to a lesser charge and sentence them to probation and require them to register as a sex offender—which does nothing to protect vulnerable children.

Many still believe that the Sex Offender Registry prevents pedophiles from living near them in their in their community. This is a misconception. Nebraska is one of 22 states that don’t place any restrictions on child sex offenders. None! This means that a convicted child sex offender can visit and/or work in schools, daycares, children museums, and even live with or socialize with vulnerable children. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. (Nebraska statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006) Some judges even allow the perpetrators to have contact with their victim!

Prosecutors will tell the victim that it will be emotionally easier for them if they allow a plea deal. But what they don’t tell them is that when a case of child sexual abuse is brought before the court, the perpetrator is charged with crimes against the State, not against the victim. Then, the only option for the victim to get justice for what’s been done to them is to take it to civil court. How many 6 to 9 year old victims do you think have the knowledge and financial means to take their abuser to civil court? 

Another thing we can do is petition out legislators to change the Sex Offender Registry laws in our state to better protect our children. I have written to many state senators asking them to change the SOR law. The very few that responded told me that there was nothing they could do. It’s easy for politicians to ignore one or two people, but it’s much harder for them to ignore hundreds of people demanding the same thing.

Lastly, we can encourage survivors of child sexual abuse to speak out. Arrange for schools to allow them to tell their story and contact local news outlets and ask them to cover the event. It is a proven fact that other victims will open up when they know someone else has experienced the same thing. Child sexual abuse needs to be talked about. Remaining silent will only keep this epidemic hidden. 

“Only by dropping our well worn masks

revealing the degrading darkness of hell

can we hope to finally bask

in the life giving light outside our cell.”

By Juno Diaz, Pulitzer Prize winning author and survivor of childhood sexual abuse

Sex trafficking, drug abuse, mental health issues and criminal activity are only symptoms of the problem. We need to take care of the root of the problem. Otherwise, all the laws we pass and programs we develop will be like putting a band-aid on a broken bone. 

“…but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

Other resources:

https://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/what-keeps-us-from-talking-about-sexual-abuse

https://www.smallvoices.org

https://www.d2l.org/the-issue/statistics/

https://laurenskids.org/education/curriculum/

In all, only 27 states have rules restricting how close sex offenders can live to schools and other places where groups of children may gather, according to research by the Council of State Governments.

But these laws are based on the myth that there is a stranger who is lurking in the bushes and dark alleys and grabbing children off the street. When in fact, less than 10% of all child sex abuse cases are perpetrated by strangers. Over 90% of child sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows well. And over 60% are committed by a family member. In nearly all cases involving a family member sexually assaulting a child, the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation—And many times is allowed to return to the home where the crime took place!

A U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics study in 2003, the most recent available, found that 5.3 percent of inmates released from prison after being convicted of a sex offense are arrested for another sexual offense within three years. Although researchers generally acknowledge that the recidivism rate may be much higher because these crimes are often underreported.

The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) which is Title I of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, was supposed to provide a new comprehensive set of minimum standards for sex offender registration and notification in the United States. These Guidelines were issued to provide guidance and assistance to covered jurisdictions—the 50 States, the District of Columbia, the principal U.S. territories, and Indian tribal governments—in implementing the SORNA standards in their sex offender registration and notification programs. But these requirements are only informational in nature and do not restrict where sex offenders can live. (https://www.smart.gov/pdfs/final_sornaguidelines.pdf)

For example, The Nebraska Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. Again, this is a common misperception. The SOR law also does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information under statutes 29-4004 and 29-4006 at the sheriff’s office within the required time.

That means that someone who has been convicted of sexually abusing a child in Nebraska and is sentenced to probation is free to attend or work in schools, children museums, daycare centers and even live with other vulnerable children!

Many people have been told that if you want changes in laws and policies you need to write to your senator. Well, I have written to over 20 Nebraska state senators, the governor, the Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and even President Donald Trump, asking them to change the SOR laws in order to better protect victims of child sexual abuse from their abusers. Sadly, most did not respond. And the few that did respond, told me that there was nothing that they could do. Nothing that they could do?!

A senator is called, among other thing to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • Protect property and persons, strengthen our productive capacity, and create new opportunities.
  • Right injustices involving the public.
  • Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed.

Two senators told me that I should contact the Nebraska Inspector General about the SOR. But according to its website, the OIG does not have the authority or ability to look into complaints relating to the court process, such as decisions made by judges, the conduct of attorneys, or immediate concerns about the safety of children. http://oig.legislature.ne.gov/?page_id=15

I wrote one Senator and asked how I could address the Nebraska Legislature myself on the subject of Child Sexual Abuse and the SOR laws and he responded by telling me:

“ The podium is under the authority of the Speaker of the Legislature…it is highly unlikely that the speaker would approve of such a request.”

If this is true, then why is it that on the Nebraska Legislature’s website it states:

“At public hearings, citizens have an opportunity within the time available to make their views known or have them incorporated into the official committee record. In Nebraska, gubernatorial appointments and most bills, with the exception of a few technical bills, receive a public hearing by one of the Legislature’s committees.” http://nebraskalegislature.gov/about/testifying.php

If a senator is called to, “Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed”, but introduce bills that do more to protect sex offenders than their victims, then the prophecy of Isaiah 5:20 has come true: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

In February of this year Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln introduced Legislative Bill 289 that would require anyone trafficking an adult and soliciting a trafficked adult to carry a minimum of a year and a maximum of 50 years in prison. “When you consider the horrors of this crime, probation is nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” she said.

Senator Brett Linstom also introduced a bill that would require non-custodial parents be notified if a sex offender is living with or has unsupervised access to their child.

And yet, neither of these bills does anything to deter those who commit these heinous crimes against children, nor do they do anything to protect the victims. But…they make good sound bites and help them get re-elected.

But it’s not just our politicians who are to blame. There are many who have taken to the streets protesting for the rights of women, for the LGBT community, for religious freedom, and even for the right to spread hateful propaganda. But no one is taking to the streets to protest against the 1 in 5 children who are abused, molested and raped in their own homes every day—Or the judges who only sentence the perpetrators to probation for their crime!

Sadly, there are stricter punishments and restrictions for those who abuse animals than for those who abuse children!

Almost everyone has seen the ASPCA’s heart wrenching TV commercial that portrays abused and neglected dogs and cats. The use of emotion in the commercial is clearly evident. What better way to urge viewers to donate money than by showing pictures of sorry-looking, hurt animals with Sarah McLachlan’s song, ‘In The Arms Of An Angel’ playing in the background? I have to admit that it is a very moving, emotional, (and productive) commercial. The ASPCA garnered over $30 million from that commercial.

Very few people won’t cringe at the sight of the graphic images featuring badly injured animals in crates and cages.

But maybe the next time you see that commercial try to think of the more than 300,000 children who are abused and neglected in the same way (and worse) every year in this country.

Of course if someone made a commercial about abused children using the same method as the ASPCA, it would probably be banned from TV. (If it even was allowed to be aired to begin with)

We have truly become what what described in the Bible as living in the last days:

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3: 1-5)

Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6) How many sermons have you heard denouncing child sexual abuse?

I for one, will not stop advocating on behalf of those children who have been treated worse than animals. I will not go quietly into the night. I will not turn back. I will continue to be a voice for those who are afraid to speak.

What will you do?

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)

Read correspondence below:

Sample Letter to Senators

Response from Sara Howard

Response From Governor

Response From Don Bacon

Response from Brett Lindstrom

Letter to Betsy DeVoss

Letter From Sec. of Ed

Many parents believe that most children are groomed for sexual abuse online or face-to-face by a stranger. But many more times they are groomed by someone they know. Sometimes it’s someone who is living right in their own home! A step parent or live-in partner, a family member or relative. In fact, children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner that is not the biological parent of the child are 30 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents. But alert parents can often stop a sex offender before he or she harms a child.

Here are some of the things every parent should know: 

  • One in four children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.
  • Ninety percent of children are sexually abused by people they know well, including immediate family members.
  • Child sex abuse isn’t limited to sexual intercourse. It also includes oral sex, genital contact, deliberately introducing a child to pornography and exposing one’s genitals to a child.
  • In the vast majority of cases, children who report sex abuse are telling the truth.
  • Fewer than 5 percent of children who have been sexually abused actually report it, and fewer than 5 percent of perpetrators are arrested.
  • Some sex offenders make a concerted effort to get access to children and often target parents and children they see as vulnerable.
  • Single mothers and their children are especially vulnerable, since many of them have little or no outside support.
  • Sex offenders often position themselves as the “hero” saving the mother and child from a difficult or unhappy situation.
  • Sex offenders don’t pounce immediately. They may spend weeks or months “grooming” a child, working to make a child feel special by showering him or her with gifts, special activities and outings, and attention. They may approach the mother with offers to lessen the burden on her, such as watching a child after school every day for free.
  • Sex offenders will work to break down a child’s natural inhibitions. These behaviors include “accidental” touching, insisting that the child sit on the offender’s lap, roughhousing, tickling, massages,”accidentally” walking in on a child undressing, showering, or using the toilet. It usually escalates later to showing pornography to a child, photographing a child (in either sexual or non-sexual poses) and providing a child with alcohol or drugs.
  • Sex offenders rarely stop at one victim.

Most parents never suspect that a family member or a trusted friend would sexually abuse their child so they don’t even realize that person has been grooming their child until after the abuse has happened. We must understand that groomers will often go to great lengths not to be identified and the signs of grooming aren’t always obvious.

If a child is being groomed by someone in the home they may:

  • Be very secretive about what they are doing and where they go.
  • Spend an inordinate amount of time alone with the much older person.
  • Come home with gifts such as new toys, clothes or cell phones.
  • Have unexplained changes in behavior or personality.
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior for their age.

Once they have established trust, groomers will exploit the relationship by making the child (and their mother) feel dependent on them. Which is why many mothers may hide the abuse rather than report it. The abuser will use any means of power and control to make a child and mother believe that they have no choice but to allow the abuser to do what they want. To hide their abuse the abuser may introduce “secrets” as a way to control or frighten the child. In many cases the abuser will convince the child’s mother that it is the child’s fault in order to stop them telling anyone about the abuse.

Because child sex abuse has become so prevalent in our society today, it is important for parents to be vigilant in protecting their children from predators that may be living with them. Even in cases where the abuser is arrested and charged, many times the perpetrator is only sentenced to probation and required to register as a sex offender.

But in many states the Sex Offender Registration law does not have any restrictions on registered sex offenders. This is a common misperception. In Nebraska for example, the SOR law does not have the legal jurisdiction to prevent an offender from attending events, limiting employment, restrict an offender from entering any facilities, or refrain from living with or socializing with children or other vulnerable persons. The SOR law can only mandate that the offender register his or her required information at the sheriff’s office within the required time. In some cases the perpetrators are even allowed to have contact with their victims!

Why don’t our legislators care more about our children?

A senator is called to, among other things, to:

  • Represent the people and the best interests of his or her legislative district.
  • Right injustices involving the public.
  • Establish state policy by introducing bills to create new programs, modify existing programs, and repeal laws which are no longer needed.

I have written to many senators concerning the outdated SOR laws with no success. Legislators have done little or nothing to change the SOR laws so that victims of child sexual abuse are better protected.

As a parent you must recognize that YOU are responsible to protect your child. You may face a difficult dilemma in these circumstances, but you are not helpless. If your child has disclosed abuse, and your spouse or partner has access to your child, you must deny that access. It is important that your child know that you believe them and support them. It is also important that your child be in ongoing therapy so that they have a safe place to talk about their concerns. By law you may be unable to totally keep them from their abuser, but you can petition the court to only allow the abuser supervised visits with the child. Therapist’s recommendations are often used by the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child’s welfare and safety. It is also important that you be in ongoing therapy as well to address issues related to your child’s abuse.

What else can a parent do?

Keep a log of interactions and concerning behaviors of your child’s abuser. Maintain a log of all suspicious statements made by the child. If the child discloses additional abuse, immediately report to Child Protective Services and to law enforcement. Consult with the child’s therapist and voice your concerns. If child sexual abuse is revealed, by law the therapist must report it. Your hope is that with time and additional reports to Child Protective Services, that the abuser will be arrested and charged.

Talk to your child at an early age. Include sex abuse awareness among the safety precautions you teach your kids. Just as you tell them to watch for cars when crossing the street, teach them that no one should touch their private parts and tell them it’s okay to refuse a hug or other contact that makes them uncomfortable—Regardless if it’s Grandpa Joe or “Mommy’s new friend.”

If you’re squeamish about discussing sex with your kids…Get over it! This is not about you. Let your kids know that they can talk to you about sex and sexual abuse. Give them age-appropriate sex education and use proper names for all body parts. Find books that parents and children can use to help prevent sex abuse.

If your child tells you that he or she has been touched inappropriately, don’t start grilling your child for details. Instead, simply tell them that you believe them; that it’s not their fault; and immediately call law enforcement or the Department of Human Services. Children who are possible sex abuse victims should be interviewed only by professionals. The police and Child Services are trained for this and are always willing to deal with the interview part.

Most of all, trust your gut and stand your ground. If another person’s words or actions regarding your child are setting off alarm bells, say “no.” And if your “no” is ignored, then you need to terminate the relationship.

It is important to know that if you neglect to report the abuse, you may be charged with child endangerment and your child may be removed from your home and placed in foster care.

Other helpful resources:

Darkness 2 Light http://www.d2l.org

Rainn (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) https://www.rainn.org/articles/how-can-i-protect-my-child-sexual-assault

National Sexual Violence Resource Center http://www.nsvrc.org/projects/child-sexual-assault-prevention/preventing-child-sexual-abuse-resources

Over the years I have written songs with lyricist Tom White, who is also my longtime friend and brother in Christ. Even though we are now miles apart we still collaborate on songs through the internet. He recently sent me lyrics to use in a song. I will be working on the music in the coming days, but the words are so intensely descriptive that I couldn’t wait to share them with you.

These Hands by Tom White

They reached down to pick her up, dry her tears then tenderly lifted her off the ground/They brushed off her clothes so gently and then lovingly placed her on the Merry go round/They offer her some ice cream or some candy, a vile threat presented as a special treat/ Warning her that if she shares this secret with anyone she’ll get hurt and end up alone on the street

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Forty five minutes off the bus she finds the streets are cruel/She ran from the prison called home to find more of the same/Her body becomes a token used over and over again by men and women too many to name/She cries out to God for mercy, hoping against hope Where the thought of escape becomes a nightly dream/But each day she’s bought and sold like a piece of meat/And all she can do is silently scream

And those hands—hands that are meant to protect/Are used to abuse, to injure, and neglect/And those hands—hands that are meant to defend/They rush to crush life to bring about its end/Who will protect the innocent? Who will raise their voice for the silent one? Who will, without fail, shine a light to expose the unspeakable things in shadows done?

Your life goes on while children are defiled/The sex traffic lights are all blinking green/If you ignore it soon enough it should go away/Then the problem will be unheard, unknown and unseen/But Christ hears the cries of the least of these/And calls us to be his voice, his hands and feet/To live outside the stained glass windows/So that we, like him, can hear the cries from the street

So that hands—our hands, can truly protect/We can lift up and encourage and deflect/Yes those hands—your hands, can defend/ Like a shepherd, like a brother, like a friend/Protecting the innocent starts with you/Raise your voice and speak up for the silent one/Shine a light so bright that it will expose/The unspeakable things in shadows done