I’m going to speak as a parent today… Last night I watch an Oprah episode about a 16 year old boy Daniel, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for stabbing his molester 55 times.
It was a sad story about a 12 year old boy who saw a handsome dog in a park and asked the man if he could pat him. The man agreed and they started talking. The topic came about that the man needed some work done around the house that Daniel would be able to do – mow the lawns, run some errands, walk his dog etc. Daniel’s parents were wary of this stranger, and from the dog’s collar, they got his details and did some checks on him to see if he was a registered sex offender. Luckily, for the man, he wasn’t. Somehow, the man befriended the parents as well, happy for him to see where he lived, invited them over for dinner and became a good family friend. As boys talk between each other, the man started asking Daniel how many different words he knew for penis. As the banter became more fun and accepting, the man asked Daniel to show him his penis, and from then on the man had his way with Daniel. He knew all the things that Daniel liked, so offered him those things if he would perform sexual favours for him. Daniel was scared to tell his parents, ashamed of what he allowed the man to do, and week by week, year by year, the acts were getting worse. Until one day, Daniel blew up, hit the man on the head with a pickle jar, then stabbed him 55 times.
Daniel called his parents to say that something terrible had happened at the man’s house, so his father rushed over to see. He saw the blood, the knife, the man lying lifeless on the floor. Daniel explained that the man had been hurting him and he was relieved that it was now over. They decided to call the police and admit Daniel’s guilt. The police confirmed that Daniel had been molested by finding child pornography on the man’s computer and a physical examination. The parents felt robbed that they trusted this man, who said he was a child social worker, when really he was a janitor.
Daniel was allowed to appear on Oprah as the judge released him to do the show, saying that Daniel’s story is possibly the best public service announcement possible to show families how predators work.
Across the table at a family gathering today, the question was asked…. if your eight your old child came up to you and told you that a family friend was touching you in an inappropriate place, would you believe your child?
I frequently check my boys awareness of sex. For instance, my seven year old heard the word ‘sex’ in a song and said “ooh mum, they said ‘sex,'” so I asked him, “what is ‘sex?'” He said “kissing with tongues.” So now I know what the understanding of sex is for him. If he told me next week that a family friend was rubbing his penis on his backside, I would believe him, because it is not in his comprehension that that is a sexual act, and I know he is fully aware that seeing or touching someone’s private parts is wrong.
My oldest sister asked my parents, if one of us came up to them when we were eight years old and it was one of their family friends, what would they have done? They said that the friendship would have dissolved very quickly, they could possibly have mentioned it to their friend’s wife, but not once did they say they would report it to the authorities. Whereas, thirty years later, each one of my sisters said that we would go straight to the authorities and get our child examined. It’s interesting the generational difference.
As a parent, we need to be fully aware of our child’s awareness of right and wrong. This is where I believe befriending your children with friendly banter about ‘their’ sexual awareness is paramount in the act of raising your children. There needs to be mutual trust in this issue. If they ask you a question about sex, you need to give them an open and honest answer, as you’d expect from them about their knowledge and experience with sex. A mutual trust will protect them in the long run, because you know that they have been educated responsibly and that they will turn to you when or if they need help.
Daniel was sentenced to 5 years probation with therapy for his act, a very generous sentence from a judge who knew that Daniel’s story needed to be heard from him and his family. Daniel is a very brave sixteen year old for coming forward and telling it so openly and honestly. Thank you Daniel…