Writing this blog post will be very uncomfortable for me. Usually, I keep this blog very light and positive- and I steer clear from politics. I like to post recipes and funny or encouraging things about Motherhood. But Motherhood isn’t only the day to day struggles and triumphs we face- there are much larger things going on in our society that are IMPORTANT to talk about, IMPORTANT to think about and that should 100% play a role in how we parent.
“Well, I’d say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of. This is a very difficult time.” President Trump.
I have heard this sentiment said in many different ways in the past few weeks. “We should be scared for our sons”, “We should be worried about false accusations”, “Its no longer innocent until proven guilty”, etc.
It may be the pregnancy hormones, but these statements have infuriated me. Not regular, “hey that bothers me”, but have pissed me off. After a conversation with my husband this morning about the situation that is happening with Judge Kavanaugh- I started to see a little clearly why this was making me so angry to my core. It is a scare tactic that is being used in a political fashion- but what it’s doing is covering up the HEART of this issue: we do not have an epidemic of false accusations in this country- we have a epidemic of sexual abuse and victims not being believed.
I have a daughter, and I also have a son. I am far more terrified of either of them actually being sexually abused- than I am of my son being falsely accused.
Approximately 20 percent of girls (1 in 5) and 8 percent of boys (1 in 12.5) will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Pereda et al, 2009).
As many of 40 percent of children who are sexually abused are abused by older, or more powerful children. (Finkelhor, 2012) Note: with the easy access to pornography we are seeing more and more cases of child on child sexual abuse, and older children/siblings sexually abusing younger children. Twenty-three percent of all 10 to 17 year olds experience exposure to unwanted pornography (Jones L., et al 2012).
In 98 percent of child abuse cases reported to officials, children’s statements were found to be true (NSW Child Protection Council, cited in Dympna House 1998).
1 in 3 adults would not believe a child if they disclosed sexual abuse (Australian Childhood Foundation, 2010).
On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. (Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, National Crime Victimization Survey, 2010-2014 (2015).
As of 1998, an estimated 17.7 million American women had been victims of attempted or completed rape. (National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey (1998).
You are more likely to be falsely accused of murder and exonerated than you are of rape: According to the National Registry of Exonerations, since records began in 1989, in the US there are only 52 cases where men convicted of sexual assault were exonerated because it turned out they were falsely accused. By way of comparison, in the same period, there are 790 cases in which people were exonerated for murder. (https://qz.com/980766/the-truth-about-false-rape-accusations/).
Not only should I be more worried about my son being a victim of sexual assault himself, but statistically, I should be more worried he might be falsely accused of murder than I should be of him being falsely accused of rape. The notion that is a “scary time” for men is just ridiculous. If we really want to be outraged and “worried” about ANYTHING- as parents we should be constantly taking measures to keep our children SAFE from being SEXUALLY ABUSED. I think as a Mom of a son the suggestion I should worry about his false accusations in the future also makes me pissed on a whole different level- just because he is a BOY- he will inevitably find himself in a situation where a false accusation is even possible. The future of his moral character is dismissed completely because he is boy. My husband and I are raising a kind, loving and respectful young man. We put a lot of TIME and EFFORT in raising our children to RESPECT OTHER HUMAN BEINGS. In ALL situations. You better believe there will be COUNTLESS discussions in our household, to all of our children, about MANY things concerning what is right and wrong. How important it is to stay away from pornography. How important it is to respect others bodies. I want to create a relationship where my kids feel SAFE telling me ANYTHING because they know I will believe them.
I have a terrible memory- my friends and family make fun of me for it. There are few memories I have from childhood but one of the very few was in 2nd grade. I had dry lips, I licked my lips and my teacher thought I had stuck my tongue out at the girl in front of me. She told my Mom, and for a kid who NEVER got in trouble in school (and had a flare for being dramatic) this was a first for me and in my mind the end of the world as I knew it. When I got home my Mom asked me if I had stuck my tongue out, and through huge tears I told her I had not. She gave me a hug, told she believed me, and told the teacher the next day she was wrong. My Mom showed me that she took the word of a 7 year old over an adult, because she knew me. She knew I wouldn’t lie and without a doubt in her mind she believed me. It’s funny to think a seemingly silly memory like that would have stuck with me- when there were countless discussions throughout my life about character and right vs. wrong. But the thing that means the most to a kid is actions- showing our kids what we are teaching them. So what can we do as parents in these times where there is an epidemic of sexual abuse?
First and foremost- always, always, always believe your kids. When they tell you about a situation that made them uncomfortable NEVER dismiss it. Many times kids who have been sexually abused will “test out” telling a parent by giving a snippet of the story that doesn’t seem so bad- to see how they will react and in order to see if it is safe for them to tell the full story. So never dismiss even the slightest things your kids may tell you.
Don’t trust people nonchalantly with your kids. Don’t find random babysitters, or assume because a person is trusted in the community they can be trusted to watch your kids. Most cases of sexual assault occur with a person the child knows and trusts.
KEEP YOUR KIDS OFF TABLETS. Period. Until a kid is old enough to be talked to about Pornography with- don’t let them have access to a tablet. So many kids are being TRAUMATIZED at young ages because they are 100% accidentally stumbling upon Porn while trying to play a game on a tablet or a phone. My kids do not and will not have access to tablets, phones, etc. until they are mature enough for my husband and I to have a discussion with them about pornography and what to watch out for online. They may hate us for it- but this is something we feel very strongly about.
Teach your kids about appropriate vs. inappropriate touch and use the correct terminology for body parts. Penises are penises and vaginas are vaginas in our house- and appropriate vs. inappropriate touch are discussed in different ways at different ages.
Teach your kids to respect others space- by respecting theirs. I have to admit this is the hardest for me. I love my kids. I want to kiss their chubby cheeks ALL DAY LONG because they are so adorable. But my kids are getting to an age where they say “No'“ to hugs or kisses, from me or from each other. I fail at this more than I would like to admit but I have become very hyper aware of making myself not give the kiss on the cheek when the kids say no. I never make them give hugs to relatives or friends- I say “give so and so a hug bye!” and if they do- great- but I try really hard to NEVER force it. Forced affection = bad. This is something I want ingrained in them from a young age.
In conclusion to this blog post/rant I think something we should all take away from this circus going on in our media and in our country is that we need to believe the victims. Sexual abuse happens ALL THE TIME. It is something we should ALL be aware of and something we should as parents be taking steps to protect our children from daily. We should also all have some respect for the people who are brave enough to come forward. Many of us have no idea what emotionally it took for Dr. Ford to share her experience, but statistically many people do know exactly how that feels. They have been keeping their own experiences to themselves for years, or they have come forward and were not believed. Either way- there is a HUGE chunk of our fellow human beings who are going through a hard time right now reliving their own experiences and abuses. I would like every single person to consider that before pressing “enter” on anything they want to add to this conversation.