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“The Responsibility is Ours” by Penney Wilson


  “Penney is an active Advisory Board Member for Silent Spirits. Her work spans from victim advocacy to early childhood development. Providing medical, legal, financial,       system and general support advocacy is just what Penney does. A true Warrior in the field of advocating for survivors of sex abuse”. Savenia Falquist – Silent Spirits Founder

What is it that we most love about our children? The innocence, the naiveté, the wonderful child view of the world, or perhaps the sweetness, the imagination, the openness of  chidren?  We love our children for who they are and for what they can become. The future is open to them to explore with guile less wonderment and enthusiasm and yet we leave them vulnerable to losing it all. The very things we love about our children are the very things that draw predators to them and it is what predators take from them. Sadly we may be unwitting participants. Through our complacency and over confidence in bad things happening only to “other people’s children” and in our mistaken trust that should something happen to our child, we would know; they would come to us, they would tell us. We believe this because as good parents we have all had the “stranger danger” discussion, the lecture about not letting anyone touch your “private parts”, and to “run and tell if someone hurts you” talk. We tell our children not to talk to strangers, don’t get into strange vehicles, stay in a group, call us when you get there, call us when you leave.  Isn’t this what good protective parents do? Yes, but we also send them off to friend’s houses for sleepover’s without knowing who else has access to the house, we trust them to teachers, coaches, and ministers. We insist they hug Uncle Joe, or Grandpa even when they are reluctant to do so, even perhaps after we have heard rumors from other family members or we have a gut feeling about them but because of societal and family norms we still push our children into their arms. By not listening to our children, by leaving the responsibility of protecting our children to our children and by not paying attention to our gut feelings, by allowing ourselves to minimalize and justify, we are allowing the predators to reach our children. We are not only allowing it we are assisting them.

We install smoke alarms in our homes, locks on our doors. We install car seats and safety belts, we put medications on high shelves, and safety proof cupboards. All things to keep our kids safe, yet we expect them to protect themselves against predators. When did it become the norm for adults to turn over the responsibility for protecting children from predators to the very children being preyed upon? When did we abandon our responsibility to keep our children safe from those who would harm them? I know from experience that children don’t always tell. I know from experience that children almost always know their abusers. I know that by the time the abuser is finally caught they have, on average, abused hundreds of children. I know too that not only the children but their families have been groomed by the abusers. I know anyone can be taken in by these deceptive manipulators. ANYONE. Why do we expect children to be able to protect themselves against behaviors so deviant and beyond our comprehension?  We are in the midst of an epidemic of child sexual abuse. If you need proof just read the headlines, listen to your local news, talk to your neighbors and family. There is a well strategized and funded war being raged against our children and as parents and non-offending adults it is our responsibility to protect our children, to assure our children a childhood and the opportunity to keep their innocence for as long as possible. We do this by listening to our children, by listening and acting on our gut feelings even if it means going against societal proprieties and family norms. We look closely and ask tough questions of anyone who comes in contact with our children including teachers, coaches, family members, and neighbors, especially when our gut tells us there is something not right. We don’t trust an adult around our children simply because of their affiliations or because they are a trusted member of the community, family member or friend. We do not leave it to our children to fight this war alone. We let the predators know that we are aware and that we will be vigilant in our fight to stop them from harming another child. We will speak out against child sexual abuse and make sure our lawmakers hear us. It is our responsibility. Ours.

Penney Wilson

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One Comment
  1. Penney, Thankyou for such an insightful post. I know all too well the responsibility that we as adults have to stop sex abuse in it’s tracks before it creates more sex abusers. I related to all that you wrote and look forward to reading more as it validates my own experience having to protect my son from his same age predator.

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