A Monster Tale.

Today’s post is not funny or light-hearted or cute. But, it is necessary. The story you just read, unfortunately, is not a fairytale and there is no magic spell or potion to rid the world of this monster. So, please, read today’s post right to the end and share it with parents everywhere. We may not be able to make these monsters disappear, but we can arm our children. We can educate ourselves. We don’t have to be victims.

Last week, it seemed like every time I looked at my computer, there was another story about a pedophile, that turned my stomach. I lay awake, thinking about the children’s party puppeteer in Florida who, together with a massive ring of like-minded monsters, fantasised about kidnapping, sexually assaulting and then eating children. Yes, cannibalising them. Can you imagine it? A group of monsters,meeting online and supporting each others’ sick desires.

Then there was the pre-school teacher from Denver, Colorado, who was found with a journal documenting 15 years of his encounters with the kids in his care. Again, sleepless nights, imagining those parents’ thoughts as they wonder if their children’s names are in that hideous book.

I won’t go into details, because we all know and have heard more than we ever wanted to hear about these sick members of our society who prey on our children. What I will do, is try to figure out how we don’t lock our children up in a tall tower and never let them out of our sight again. How do we somehow raise children with the same sense of adventure and independence that we had at their age, knowing that there are hideous monsters like this out there?

Pedophiles are not a new phenomenon. Of course, when we were kids there were sickos out there too. I think, however, that the internet has given them ‘permission’ to accept this part of themselves as okay. There are veritable support groups for these sickos, for crying out loud. There are pedophile rings where these monsters meet, where they get to feel like their predilections are normal, where they get tips on how to target children, groom children and get away with their sick acts. There is a brotherhood. This is the difference.

So, what can we, as parents do? It seems there is a lot we can do. In this post, I’m going to touch on some concepts for parents to know. In later posts, I’ll go into more detail. For now, here are 10 ways to empower our children:

  1. Don’t force your child to hug sweet Aunt Bertha. Why? we need to teach our children to trust their instincts – to listen to that inner voice that tells them that it doesn’t feel nice to be touched sometimes. Let them know that you back them up, even if it hurts the other person’s feelings. Chances are, Great Aunt Bertha isn’t a pedophile – but the lesson here is that they are allowed to choose who touches them and they have their parents’ backing to say “no”.
  2. Teach your children to respect authority, but to be able to say “no” if an authority figure asks them to do something that they are uncomfortable doing. The same concept applies. If they know they can say “no” and that their parents will support them and listen to them, they are less likely to be targeted. Pedophiles target children who fear authority and lack confidence to speak out.
  3. Show your children that you trust them. Listen to your children when they are talking. Children who feel heard are less likely to be coerced into keeping ‘bad secrets’.
  4. Teach your children the difference between good secrets and bad secrets. Good secrets are secrets that are meant to be told – like surprise parties, new baby siblings, the macaroni-necklace that’s being made more Mother’s Day. Bad secrets are secrets that feel bad to keep and that will never be told. They are secrets that have bad consequences attached. Tell your kids that no matter what anyone says, no matter who it is that asks them to keep bad secrets, they should never be kept. Good people will never ask kids to keep bad secrets.
  5. Teach your children the difference between good touch and bad touch.Good touch is simply touching that feels good – like cuddles with mum or dad. Cuddling can also feel bad – that bad feeling is your child’s instincts kicking in. Bad touch is not only sexual touching – pedophiles groom children, and often start with cuddles, back tickles and so on. If someone touches your children in any way that makes them feel bad, they have the right to say no and immediately tell.
  6. Never go with a stranger, ever.Drill scenarios with your children. Role play situations where a stranger might try to lure them. Brainstorm ways of dealing with it. Work out a family password for the exceptional time you may need a stranger to pick them up. Educate your kids that there are adults out there who want to harm children and teach them to be aware of their surroundings.
  7. Teach your kids to fight and make a noise.A brilliant word of advice I was given was to teach my kids to yell “This is a stranger!”because we have all looked at the mum or dad leaving the playground with a kicking, screaming and tantruming child and thought, “that poor parent.” That could easily be someone abducting that child. If the child was yelling that it was a stranger, we’d be more likely to take notice.
  8. Define boundaries.Make sure your child is aware of the roles of the adults in her life. If she understands what to expect from each person, she is also better equipped to identify when a line is being crossed.
  9. Give your children positive attention and lots of it. A child who is given affection and attention at home is less likely to fall for the seduction of a pedophile. That child is more aware of what good touch feels like and can more easily identify bad touch.
  10. Keep your eyes open.If there is someone in your life paying extraordinary attention to your child, it’s a red flag. If you know someone who regularly comments on your child’s physicality, it’s a red flag. If there’s someone in your child’s life who persistently offers to babysit, drop or fetch, take your child on outings, it’s a red flag. Of course, not all these people are pedophiles, but they are worth watching.

These are tips I have picked up after extensive research. Please add to them in the comments section. If we work together, I do believe we can give our children the tools they need to freely explore their world, not fearfully, but with confidence and joy.

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27 comments
Adam
Adam

These are really good tips. Thanks. I have three daughters and am always concerned and worried for their safety when they are out or on the way home from school. You always here on the news about bad stuff happening. My eleven year old also hears it as well and this has recently really affected her mentally. We cant wrap them up in cotton wool or lock them away. All we can do is offer them advice as responsible parents, such as the tips you mention.

marimusing
marimusing

The tips are not just for the very small or the very young either - we should remind our teenagers and young adults that all those lessons still apply as they venture into the workplace and a social life outside your circle. The other day my teenage daughter and I were walking past a new home under construction when a vehicle pulled up and a tradesman got out. Something about him scared me - and I'm not a timid person. Nothing I could put my finger on - violence and cruelty just exuded from his being. I stood up a bit straighter and continued conversing as we walked past. Once out of earshot and chasing distance we both said simultaneously, "That guy was really scary!" We both had exactly the same instinct, which opened up the conversation to personal safety and trusting your instincts... they're probably right. We also discussed manners, how people who have been brought up to show good manners can be particularly vulnerable because they don't want to be rude or loud or cause offence and end up being coerced a step too far.

The Sadder But Wiser Girl
The Sadder But Wiser Girl

I live in Iowa where the little girls disappeared riding their bikes-this has been fresh on everyone's minds. They just recently found their bones. And all of the stories of the white vans driving around-folks it isn't always a white van. You'd think that in Iowa it would be safe. Not so much.

Sahra Kant (@SahraKant)
Sahra Kant (@SahraKant)

The only thing I disagree with is the assertion that somehow "the internet has given them ‘permission’ to accept this part of themselves as okay." That's not true. NAMBLA existed long before the internet; there was always a brotherhood, always pedophile rings, except they used film-based photographs & videotapes instead of URLS, passwords & flash drives. Before that, it was reel-to-reel. Also, it really is far more likely to be Aunt Bertha or your sister's boyfriend than it is a stranger.

Rowan
Rowan

I love that your tips are about empowerment and not shame. So many times, what kids get told is "No one should ever touch you there because it's bad and wrong!" While it's easier to teach a child "this is a bad place to be touched", it instills a sense of shame in the body, and pedophiles do play on that. Your tips are about awareness and trusting instincts and communication, and I like that. It turns "touching there is bad!" to "You should tell me if someone makes you feel uncomfortable or touches you there." This lets parents unpack the difference between a pedophile's grooming touch and "Well, yes, you had a little accident at daycare today and your teacher had to clean you up and help you change your pants. Was there another teacher or anyone else there to help your teacher?" Also, raising kids this way doesn't just make them less susceptible to pedophiles. It makes them more confident as adults, in their right of control over their bodies. A child who's been raised to trust instincts and set boundaries is less likely to end up a victim of sexual assault, and more likely to report it if it happens. A child who's had it instilled from early on that access to one's body is one's own business is less likely to abuse or assault others. And children who grow up with a strong sense that they have the right to say 'no' to things (not just sexual things) that they don't want will find themselves a lot less likely to fall victim to peer pressure and social obligations.

MBCowan
MBCowan

Nanasha, along with the books you recommended, you might want to review "The Parent's Guide to Protecting Children from Pedophiles" by mbcowan (Amazon). The book suggests ways to spot a predator and tells how they hide in the open, as well as signs of abuse. It is the real thing about real offenders and written by an offender in recovery - me. I know what I am talking about! http://www.amazon.com/Parents-Protecting-Children-Pedophiles-ebook/dp/B004G09100/

Courtney
Courtney

Oprah has pointed out on her numerous shows that if a pedophile is good, the touch will feel good. It's important to tell your children that it might feel good, but not to allow people to touch you in those areas, and not to touch others in those areas. It's so sad we have to have these conversations.

Nanasha
Nanasha

I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in helping children learn appropriate boundary setting and stranger-interaction skills to check out KidPower: http://kidpower.org/stranger-safety/ As for adults- a book that has been incredibly useful to me is the book "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker- it can teach adults many of the same safety skills to help avoid being predated upon by those who would do you harm. You can see more at his website: https://www.gavindebecker.com/resources/book/the_gift_of_fear/ There are monsters out there, but they thrive in the shadows, silence and fear. Shining a light on human monsters- being able to "out" them before they can do harm is a valuable skill for anyone of any age and more often than not can send them scurrying away. More than anything, women, children and other vulnerable populations must learn assertive behaviors to invasive behaviors by others to be second nature. Instead of learning to "smooth things over" or simply accept certain behavior that makes us uncomfortable in order to "keep the peace" we must be willing to stand up and make our feelings clear with words, actions and gestures. Be safe out there, all!

Kristin
Kristin

There's a quote I like from an episode of Criminal Minds..."Fairytales don't tell children that monsters don't exist. They know monsters exist. Fairytales tell children that monsters can be defeated." (Maybe not the exact words, but close enough.) Usually you needed something special to defeat the monster...a magical sword, or a spell...these tips are our modern magical swords. And remember it's often the people closest to you who are the real danger. For us, it was my husband, the man I loved, the man I'd married, who was violating our daughter. She had the strength to stand up, say "no more" and see him jailed for his actions. Mostly because I had used most of the tips here, so she knew she would be believed and helped. Thank you, mummymishy, for sharing the story and the tips.

Rebecca Prgomelja Boni
Rebecca Prgomelja Boni

That puppeteer was not in the UK. He was in Florida at my sister's church in Largo,FL. My nephew goes there and could have been one of his victims. Thank you for posting this. It is hard to read but I agree, necessary.

Happy Little Feet
Happy Little Feet

This is a extremely important post. I read it and had to come back to it later to answer because it is such a upsetting but important topic. All of your tips were very great. Every single day at the end of the day I sit down with each child by them selves and ask them what their favourite part of the day was, what they were thankful for and what if anything upset them. I hope by doing this it will encourage the confidence and trust to be able to tell me if anything bad every happens.

MBCowan
MBCowan

Excellent. The saddest part is that the monster is most often within the home - auntie, mom, dad, grandpa, step-mom. It is a generational disorder passed on and on. My book may be of help - The Parent's Guide to Protecting Children from Pedophiles, MBCowan, Amazon. You see, I am a recovering sex offender, and I know what I am talking about.

Naomi
Naomi

This is an essential post... it's what we must be aware of, it's how we must direct our parenting... I especially appreciate tip no.9 in terms of it's effectiveness. It's great your writing about it - so very sad we have to have something like this to pay attention to, but, as beautiful and amazing this world is, it's also full of sin & hideous behaviour. Naomi G.

momshieb
momshieb

Terrifying, but your post is so empowering. I can't say how much I hate the fact that we need posts like yours. Thanks.

8 kids and a business
8 kids and a business

Well done! My stomach was in knots just reading your post but it has to be said.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Scary people out there... That inner voice is THE BEST form of self-defence and I agree wholeheartedly that kids with respect for their elders and good manners are easy targets - so how do we raise them to be respectful and polite but also able to yell NO when that voice tells them to? Hard one.

mummymishy
mummymishy

It's a scary scary world and somehow we have to raise our kids to be aware but not frightened, cautious but still adventurous. Wish it was all fiction...

mummymishy
mummymishy

Rowan, amazing points. Thanks so much for taking the tome to comment. I hope you'll follow the blog and continue joining in the discussion. I'd love to hear your thoughts on other issues. Take care!

mummymishy
mummymishy

Your comment has left me speechless. I can't imagine how your mind could possibly have processed the utter betrayal, both to you and your precious daughter. I can't imagine the hurt. I take my hat off to you for being the kind of mother your daughter could go to in such an impossibly horrible situation. I wish for you both only happiness. thank you for taking the time to comment.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank you for pointing that out. I knew that and have no idea why I wrote 'UK'. Its to chilling to think about how close our kids must come to these monsters in their daily lives. I wish they DID have horns and green scales.

mummymishy
mummymishy

I love that you do this with your children! Thank you for coming back to comment. I think that open communication with our kids is vital in creating an environment where they feel comfortable confusing in us.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank you for this comment - I will be looking at your book.

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank Naomi - I appreciate the feedback and am so glad that this post has been helpful. Please share!

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thanks again for such a positive comment. It's sickening to have to keep reading about terrible things happening to kids, but they ARE happening and we have to do everything in our power to protect our kids. Knowledge and strategies seem to be key, as far as my research shows. Thanks again for always offering such great comments!

mummymishy
mummymishy

Thank you so much. My stomach was in knots, writing it. The whole topic makes me queasy - which is exactly why I HAD to write it.

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