THE OPEN HAVERSACK: Sexual predators
Child sexual abuse exists at all levels in every society but many instances are kept secret because most children are afraid to speak out. This fear could be as a result of being threatened or not being believed.
Sexual predators do not carry a face. In fact, in most cases they are people children trust (fathers, neighbours, coaches), those one would least suspect.
Do not be fooled; all sexual predators are not males for some females fall in this category as well. I was told that one mom said she has to “break in” her son.
What is disturbing is that most of the time when children speak out about being molested, the people to whom it is reported refuse to believe and make them feel as if they are at fault.
Conversely, some people refuse to believe that the accused is capable of such a crime and more often than not family members and friends rally in support of the suspect, proclaiming his/her innocence and going to all lengths to have the suspect vindicated.
In most cases when the suspect is caught and investigations are carried out, it is discovered that this was not their first offence but rather these are serial predators, who have been on the prowl for a long time. They have targeted their victims in advance, making them vulnerable through gifts, betrayed trust and promises.
When some children run away from home we need to ask the question: who or what are they running from? In some cases, some of these children are running from their sexual predator, but as a society we are quick to ridicule and cast blame without knowing the facts.
I believe in the term “innocent until proven guilty” and posit that if found guilty these people should face the full force of the law. I would not specifically advocate mutilation or castration but in addition to any punishment, a photograph and name of sexual offenders should be made public.
Parents should do whatever it takes to protect their children. They need to listen to their children when they cry for help and not sell them for shelter, meals or clothing. Children should not be sold for “30 pieces of silver”.
Parents need to teach their children from an early age about sexual abuse, sexual predators and their actions. In addition, they should promptly inform the relevant authorities when they know of instances of sexual abuse.
Remember, a sexual predator, over the course of his/her lifetime, can molest hundreds, even thousands of children. Childhood should not be plagued by abuse and emotional extortion.
Rhonda A. Blackman is an educator, a National Development Scholar and former President of the Early Childhood Association of Barbados Inc.