For the first two days of class, we took part in a workshop that was all about child sexual abuse. My first response to the movies were that these two men who are now labels as child sex offenders did not even seem the least bit remorseful or sorry for sexually abusing these children. They made it seem as if it was the most normal thing that they could possibly do. This was very surprising to me. They knew exactly what they are doing, and had a process each time. Whether it be to have their children invite friends over and abuse them that way, or any other way it is wrong. The emotion the children had was heartbreaking. The one girl who was abused by her pastor in my mind was the most upsetting story. Her parents made a point to say that after they found out about the pastor abusing their daughter, other people came up to them saying that they had suspected things were going on, but did not say anything until the scandal was out! This story really shows that if you have a suspicion act upon it because you can really save a child from a nightmare. There are many signs that a person could be a potential child sex abuser such as: 1. they like to be with children rather than be with people their age, 2. they are always touching children i.e. tickling, hugging, etc. and 3. They let children get away with things that their parents normally would not.
There are a lot of myths involved with this topic as well, and I believe that it is extremely important for all people to understand that these are myths, NOT FACTS!
Myth 1: Most child sex abusers are strangers to their victims.
In reality, most abusers abuse children that they know. It could be someone that their child is friends with, someone the see around a park, or even a religious figure!
Myth 2: Children usually lie about child sexual abuse.
Most children will never go to these lengths to get an adult in trouble, and if they do they almost always come clean about lying. I believe the video said that 95% of allegations of abuse are later proven true. When a child does tell someone that they are being sexually abused, it must be taken seriously.
Some children will not tell someone right away that they are being sexually abused for a few reasons: 1. They believe they are to blame for being abused and 2. Children believe that other adults will not take them serious, and will just ignore the allegations. Right from the beginning children need to be told and reassured over and over that if they are ever violated by another person that they must go to someone immediately so that it can be stopped, but also be told that they will never be in trouble for telling. Perpetrators will often tell their victims not to tell anyone or they will be in big trouble, and children will often believe this. They are manipulated by the perpetrators, but this can be reversed if they have other adult figures reassuring them that they are not doing anything wrong, and that they are doing the right thing about telling another adult.
In addition, we learned that if we ever suspect that a child is being abused that we should first call the child abuse line for our area and/or call the local police to investigate the situation.
This workshop really opened up my eyes to the potential danger, and knowing all of this and other information brought up through Virtus, I feel as if I am much more prepared to be working with children, and to help them stay safe if they are ever put in a position of harm.