Thursday, April 14, 2016

What Is The Biggest Factor In Child Sexual Abuse?

I am going to say something crazy. It is insane! But I need to get there before I just up and say something psychotic. So let me ask you, the reader, some questions. Some food for thought, if you will. I should warn you that the conclusions of this post will probably keep you up at night.

Questions

What do you think causes an adult to abuse a child?

What do you think causes a teenager to abuse a child?

What role does an attraction to children play in abuse?

What role does mental health play in abuse?

What do you think about the victims of abuse?

Do you think abuse was the victim's fault?

Do you think their stories are made-up?

What danger do you think a pedophile, or someone attracted to children, poses to children?

How harmful do you think adult pornography is?

How harmful do you think child pornography is?

If a child came to you and said that a trusted adult touched their genitals, would you believe them?

If you suspected sexual abuse is happening, who would you talk to?

How would you react to an adult who says they were sexually abused as a child?

Do you know what sexual abuse is?

What role do you think sex offenders play in child sexual abuse?

Do you know what your state's laws demand of registered sex offenders?

Are sex offenders only registered as adults?

Do you know what your state's laws are regarding mandatory reporting?

Do you think mandatory reporting can cause child sexual abuse?

How willing are you to challenge your perceptions of any of these questions with factual statistics
and knowledge?

How willing are you to listen to expert psychologists?

Does your willingness to listen depend on the content being shared?

Which side of abuse are you more familiar with: A victim's, or an abuser's?

My Point Is...

...so at what point did you just tune this out? At which question did I hit a sore spot, and cause you to jump to this next segment? Did you make it through all of the questions? Are you angry now? Confused? Overwhelmed? Good.

Comfort Zones

Hardly anyone likes talking about the trauma that children go through, regardless of what the trauma is. Children with trauma is a new area for the average person, and they have no idea how to react. The average person (that would be you) does not have the emotional capacity to tackle most these questions at once. When the topic is trauma to children, people get uncomfortable. Add to that the topic of sex, which people often do not handle well, and you have a recipe for hiding from the topic. In short, these questions may well make you uncomfortable, because you are likely outside your realm of experience, and then you shut down and refuse to go any further. That is why you skipped over to this section.

Here is the thing: Those scary people the news is telling you about? The "child predators", like Jerry Sandusky, Jimmy Savile, a Boy Scout leader, or a Catholic priest? The people that supposedly go after children, have many victims, and would just keep abusing children if left to their own devices? They are the extreme minority of child sex abusers, and they are extremely uncommon overall. Most of the people getting arrested for sex crimes are getting arrested for the first time.

Statistical Reality

We have estimates of how many adolescent and adult men have pedophilia (I will go with 2% (Michael Seto, one of the most respected researcher on these topics, came up with 1%-2%, but other experts have suggested as much as 25%, so I think 2% strikes a reasonable balance...)). We also have solid numbers for how many sex offenders there are in the United States (NCMEC), and how many of them have crimes against children (66%, Darkness To Light's Stewards of Children training). We know that between 5% and 12% of these people will repeat their sexual crimes (here and here, respectively).

If we generalize these estimates, inflate the numbers to account for underreporting (multiply the end result by two or three), and assume that every criminal with a sex crime against children is a pedophile (someone attracted to children), then we can somewhat accurately estimate that between 1.07% and 3.21% of pedophiles are repeat child molesters. We can likewise estimate that 8.91% to 26.73% of pedophiles are child molesters in general. In other words, .0214% of the world's population are repeat child molesters. These are also high estimates, given that not all child molesters have pedophilia and molest children for other reasons. They are also high if the actual number of people attracted to children and young teens is more than 2% of male adolescents and adults. We do know it affects some women. So it is likely that less than 25% of Earth's pedophiles molest children.

What that leaves us with is the conclusion that at worst, almost three quarters of Earth's pedophiles do not molest children, and in a best-case scenario, nine out of every ten pedophiles do not molest children. At this point, we cannot know with certainty how many pedophiles there really are. All we have are estimates. But we can know that most of them do not harm children, because the rates at which children are abused simply do not reflect the estimated number of pedophiles in the world.

Discussion and Secrecy

That conclusion likely surprised you. I could say equally outrageous-sounding things, like that child sexual abuse is actually about unresolved mental health needs, control, and power more than it is about sex. Almost every single one of the facts challenge what the average person believes about child sexual abuse and about pedophiles. Not every child is harmed by a sexual act done to them by an older youth or adult. Most sex offenders do not reoffend. Most pedophiles do not harm children. Almost all child sexual abuse is not perpetrated by a stranger, but by a trusted person in the child's life. At least 35% of abuse is perpetrated not by old men, but by adolescents. I have discussed these statistics and facts numerous times, and you will find them on the FAQ list of any decent sex abuse prevention site like Stop It Now or Darkness To Light. You can also reason them out, or find them with internet searches.

Without discussing these issues, without the research, without the facts, the public (again, that would be you) is left to rely on the stereotypes of child sexual abuse. When that happens, children are left at their most vulnerable. And what happens when you take a hated demographic that does not commit the vast majority of sexual abuse, and presume that they do? More within that hated demographic will be distressed, and self-fulfilling prophecy happens: They abuse children. And worse, what happens when we believe that sex offenders are the biggest risk to children... when they are not? The real culprits escape our attention, and more children are abused. Without discussion, without the facts, without knowing who abuses children and why, our children are in danger.

Conclusion

Failure to discuss the issues and the inability to think rationally and challenge myths is one of the biggest causes of child sexual abuse.

The inability or unwillingness of the average person to discuss these issues directly and indirectly contributes to more children being harmed by child sexual abuse. Only by seeing pedophiles as human beings with an attraction they can do nothing to change can we assist them in remaining harm-free. Only by discussing these issues and knowing the facts can we form policies that protect children. Pushing a hated demographic of people who hate their attractions to children further into desperation only makes matters worse.

Obviously, the majority of the responsibility falls on the child abuser, but at least some of the responsibility falls on society to prevent these things with fact-based policies. Emotion must take a back seat to these fact-based logically-driven policies, because our children are important. Without the ability to think through this issue rationally, more children will be sexually assaulted.

Will you contribute to a solution, and discuss these issues? Or will you contribute to child sexual abuse?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated to ensure a safe environment to discuss the issues and difficult content in this blog.