Opinion

Any man can be a predator | Editorial

When it comes to protecting children, organizations need to remember that any man can be a predator. Certainly, we hear of women who commit sex crimes against youth, but men are far more likely to be the perpetrators.

This sad fact of life hit home over the last month when two Oak Harbor men were arrested for sexual abuse of boys. Both held positions of trust, on with the Cub Scouts and one with Oak Harbor Lutheran Church. It’s unclear early in the investigation if any Cub Scout was actually abused, and the initial charges against the church’s “middle school youth coordinator” include only one youth who attends the church, but police wouldn’t be surprised to find more victims in each case. Of course, one victim is one too many.

There is no single description that fits all male sexual predators, but all too often they are seen as nice guys, even loving guys, who devote much of their lives to “helping” children in various settings: Church, athletics and various other clubs and organizations that are meant to benefit youth. Many do not have police records, having intimidated past victims into not speaking up. In many cases, such as the recent church and Cub Scout arrests, people are shocked that the accused could do such a thing.

That’s why it’s important that organizations that cater to youth adopt ironclad policies dictating that no adult, particularly male, be left alone with any child for any appreciable amount of time. There should always be at least two adults present.

School, private and nonprofit counselors can tell parents the indications of sexual abuse in children, even if they initially won’t talk about it. There are ways to approach the subject, to ask questions, without frightening the child. Parents should speak frankly in an age appropriate way to their children about sexual abuse and make sure they feel comfortable reporting anything they suspect.

It’s hard to say if there is more sexual abuse of children today than in the past, or if there is just more reporting of it. Whatever the case, it’s past time for all responsible adults to do their part to put a stop to it.

 

 

 

Community Events, April 2014

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