Do parents panic too much about the possibility their kids will be molested?
A parent asked a question about molestation on the Parent24 expert’s page. Essentially, she was concerned that her husband may have molested her Grade 8 daughter while the daughter was sleeping in between her parents on their bed after she'd had a nightmare. While this may or may not be a case of molestation, it concerns me that the expert’s response was, essentially, "don’t allow an adolescent to sleep in the parental bed."
Fair enough. If the kid is not in the bed, he or she won’t be molested in that bed. Common sense. But how much of our parenting is fear-based?
Farewell to innocence?
This is the bullshit that parents deal with: You now have to be careful of being naked at home, or bathing with your small kids, or having their friends come for a sleepover. I especially don’t do the latter, because, as a single dad, I know that my daughter’s friend’s parents would rather eat broken glass than allow their kids to come and stay over at my house, even if the parents know me.
I get that, but it’s horrible that there’s such a climate of fear. I wouldn’t let my kids sleep over at parents whom I don’t know- and that’s my right as the one responsible for them, especially when I know that 20 000 kids are being raped or sexually molested every year in SA, mostly by family members/extended family/family friends.
Overreacting to typical issues
It’s tiring to have to parent defensively and to make sure that there’s no possibility of room for accusation: Our first reaction to mood swings or anger, or acting up or even depression in our kids is to assume that they’ve been interfered with by a molester. To drag the old fear of "a red under every bed" into play- do we now fear a molester in every bed?
The real problem is that kids who live in this environment of suspicion will grow up fearful, too, and there will be guilt tainting the family experience.
We fear the worst, but we shouldn’t always expect it, right? Despite being annoyed about the culture of fear we seem to have cultivated, I know that abuse happens, so always make sure you know how to recognise the signs, and what to do about them.
Do you think parents create an unnecessarily fearful environment?
By: Scott Dunlop