Monday, December 5, 2011

Would-be Child Molesters need a place to go for help ... BEFORE they act!

This is an odd blog post, but it feels important to write about.

I’m wildly, uncontrollably attracted to thin, brunette, adult women. Blondes and redheads are great too, but when a slender, feminine dark-haired woman walks by, quite often my internal dashboard lights start blinking wildly as if a nuclear reactor were about to go “boom!”

It’s not something that I do. It just happens.

I’ve tried to imagine if this same response happened in my body in the presence of a 10-year old boy or girl.

What if I was actually wildly and uncontrollably attracted to children?

We have an enormous ugliness in our society that will not go away ... at least not until we decide to inject some fearless, open-hearted, proactive caring into the problem.

Child molestation. 1 in 5 children in the USA is molested before they reach sexual maturity, typically by someone they know. A neighbor, a relative, the babysitter, the kid next door, the football coach, even their own parents.

ONE IN FIVE CHILDREN!!!!!!!!! .... yes, even if you don't know it, you know someone who's been molested. You may even know a child who is being molested TODAY.

I was never molested, but more than one of my best, closest friends were. I worked with the Oklahoma City “Big Brothers Big Sisters” organization years ago. BBBS pairs volunteer adults with young children in challenging home situations, usually where a parent isn’t present. As a volunteer, BBBS took me and other volunteers to a prison to meet with 6 convicted child molesters, to learn from them so that we may better understand this problem and be more prepared to protect children in our midst from potential predators. A few things deeply struck me about this experience.

One, they were normal people. I recall one was a cop. Another a postman. These were just regular people; they weren’t snaggle-faced, pale-skin monster men. They were everyday normal people, like I see at the grocery store, who also happened to sexually prey upon children.

Two, they were required to go through a 12-step addiction program, much like Alcoholics Anonymous. They believed their attraction to children was beyond their control and something that would be with them their entire lives. There was no making it go away; there was only the skill of learning how to transmute that apparently embedded programming into a healthier experience for everyone.

After this recent Penn State scandal broke, I asked myself a question. Yesterday, in the car, I watched the cutest little girl cross the street in front of me with her family. I waved, she waved back. I was not sexually attracted to her. But I wondered, what if I was?

Where could I go to get help BEFORE I acted on it?

Now, it's important to make a distinction. I’m attracted to brunette women. But I do not force them to have sex with me, nor do I sneakily manipulate situations to lure them into doing something they don’t want to do. Sure, an argument could be made that the dates I pay for, the flirtatious eye contact, the bicep muscles I flex when she asks me the time, the attention I give her, etc. those are all ways of manipulating a woman’s senses such that she’s seduced into a sexual experience with me. While true, the distinction must be made that there’s no force or coercion going on, and this is an adult woman ultimately making her own choices.

But if I wanted to, I could turn to legal porn as an outlet for my socially-acceptable attractions. There are plenty of sites that would allow me to indulge my fantasies of being with adult women without forcing the situation (though who knows how some of those videos are made).

Just as child porn is apparently available for would-be molesters to indulge their fantasies without actually touching a child. I don’t know if it happens like this. Is every adult who watches child pornography also touching actual children? Or is this a “safer outlet” for adults who wouldn’t otherwise take action. I bet it’s the latter. I bet there are adults who rationalize that this is a safer, smarter way to indulge this unfortunate attraction. Of course this still has children being exploited. They’re just not quite doing it themselves (so I imagine the rationalization would go).

So I’m left with the question, where do people who are sexually attracted to children, who genuinely would accept help, go for help?

BEFORE they act?

Until our society is able to more openly process this conversation, this problem will not change. There will be another Penn State Jerry Sandusky tomorrow. Like Syracuse coach, Bernie Fine. How many other coaches, grandparents, neighbors, fathers are right now molesting children that we’ll only learn about next week, or years from now. No doubt those men (and women) are in excruciating pain dealing with this experience. I can’t imagine the full experience feels anything close to good, dealing with a dark socially-reviled secret you can’t share with anyone, unable to get safe, proactive help, unable to stop.

Perhaps it simply starts with someone creating an organization, a website, something, that allows for people who sincerely want help with something they just can’t control, to get help, without fear of punishment, in a way that allows them to remain anonymous.

Look, if someone breaks the law they must accept the consequences of their actions. No doubt. I’m simply suggesting a step forward for our society would be creating a safe way for adults who know they’re doing something wrong, who can’t stop but want to, to begin the arduous journey towards health. They’ll inevitably have to account for their actions along that journey, and that may involve prison time and/or direct accounting with their victims. Who knows?

But let’s at least give them a safe place to start. Maybe it’s naive. But any proactive solution is better than the reactive-solution-world we live in today.

Who knows how many children this could proactively protect from being traumatized?

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