Putting our children at risk

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

Child sexual abuse a concern for everyone, especially LGBT parents

Most people would probably agree there is no resource that a society cherishes more than its children. So it is hard to fathom how sexual predators manage with such apparent ease to carry out horrendous, undetected assaults on children practically under the noses of their families and others who are charged with their protection.

As horrific as the crime of child sexual abuse is, there are no firm estimates of its prevalence because it often goes undetected and is seriously underreported, according to agencies that study child abuse.

Less than 100,000 crimes of sexual abuse are reported each year because children fear telling anyone, and adults who become aware of the activity are often reluctant to contact law enforcement agencies, even though there is usually a legal requirement to do so.

With so many LGBT households now raising children, it is obviously vital that all parents be aware of the tactics used by sexual predators to seduce children without arousing the suspicion of their families, and aware of the symptoms victims of child sexual abuse exhibit.

The critical need for sustained intervention into child sexual abuse recently gained national attention following a grand jury’s indictment of retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on 40 counts of child sex abuse involving eight victims over a 15-year period. The victims reportedly came into contact with the now 67-year-old, married Sandusky in connection with the Second Mile, a children’s charity the former football coach founded.

Although Sandusky denied, this week in an NBC interview, engaging in any type of sexual activity with the pre-pubescent boys, he acknowledged showering and “horsing around” with them after exercise. He also admitted hugging young boys and putting his hand on their legs when they sat next to him.

His admissions shocked viewers and confirmed in many minds what was already suspected — Sandusky is most likely a pedophile that has taken advantage of young boys with the unwitting complicity of their families.

It is a devastating scandal that will likely rival the one that rocked the Catholic Church a decade ago when it became known that untold numbers of Catholic Church priests sexually abused young boys and violated the trust of their families.

If the charges against Sandusky are true, the accounts by the victims portray a classic pattern of enticement and betrayal practiced by the former football coach in his pursuit of the young boys. Likewise, the lack of action by those who knew about Sandusky’s alleged criminal activity parallel what often happens when the abuser commands power and respect in a community.

Much of the difficulty in combating child sexual abuse can be attributed to its relative youth in terms of public awareness about the crime. The first studies on the molestation of children began in the 1920s, and the first estimate of the prevalence of the crime was reported in 1948.

In 1974 the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect was founded, and the Child Abuse and Treatment Act was created. Since then, awareness about the problem has grown dramatically, and much more is known about deterring the crime and assisting victims of it.

Children’s advocates have identified “red flags” to help parents and others protect children from sexual predators. They warn parents to be wary of someone who wants to spend more time with their children than they do, who attempts to be alone with a child, who frequently seeks physical closeness to a child such as hugging or touching, who is overly interested in the sexuality of a child, who seems to prefer the company of children to people their own age, who lacks boundaries, who regularly offers to babysit,who often gives presents or  money to children, who frequently walks in on children in bathrooms or locker rooms, who frequents parks where children gather, who makes inappropriate comments about a child’s appearance or who likes to photograph children.

Signs of possible sexual abuse in children include a fear of people, places or activities, reluctance to undress, disturbed sleep, mood swings, excessive crying, fear of being touched, loss of appetite, a drastic change in school performance, bizarre themes in drawing, sexually acting out on other children, advanced sexual knowledge, use of new words for private body parts and a reversion to old behavior such as bedwetting or thumb sucking.

Aside from the moral responsibility to protect children and other weaker members of society that all people share, it is essential to intervene in child sexual abuse because of the long-lasting psychological damage it usually causes. The problems can include feelings of worthlessness, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and distorted views of sexuality.

Also, victims of child sexual abuse tend to become sexual predators as adults, making it a crime that begets more crime.

The Sandusky scandal will undoubtedly lead to devastating repercussions for Penn State, for the Second Mile charity with which the former football coach is no longer affiliated and for law enforcement and university officials who became aware of concerns about the former football coach’s activities and failed to act on them.

But the real tragedy — if the allegations are true — will be the lasting impact upon the victims.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.        

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 18, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Chuck Colson winks at his complicity in the destruction of natural marriage

A few years ago, Chuck Colson was trying to drum up support for a federal anti-equality marriage amendment with the usual doomsday scenario:

…If we don’t make the case for natural marriage-or fight attempts to shut us up or shut us down-sooner or later, we will all find our most sacred liberties sacrificed on the altar of the gay agenda.

Pam challenged Colson to examine the real threats to “natural marriage” which include divorce.

Colson, Maggie Gallagher and the like don’t have anything better to do than to lob ridiculous bombs out there about the institution of marriage being destroyed by The Homosexual Agenda. They spend no time talking about rampant divorce and adultery currently putting marriage in jeopardy over and over. Where are their stiff spine supporting a ban on divorce?

Here we are two years later and guess what?  Colson agrees.  Sort of.  
The January, 2011 issue of Christian Examiner reprinted one of Colson’s recent articles, bringing it to my attention:

Closer to home, the church has to ask itself if and how we’ve contributed to the trends documented in the Pew study. While few churches sanction cohabitation and some of the other new family forms Pew describes, our record on divorce and re-marriage leaves a lot to be desired. Advocates of these new family forms take delight in pointing out that divorce rates are higher in the Bible Belt than they are in more liberal parts of the country. They don’t hesitate to point to studies showing that Christians aren’t that much better at marriage and family than their non-religious neighbors.

Fair enough, they have a point. If we’re going to lead the fight to preserve traditional marriage, we need to start by creating a place where there is no question of its being “obsolete.” That is, our homes and our churches.

This is a stunning admission from someone who spouts hyperbolic claptrap about gay and lesbian families like “This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon”.

But is Colson really doing anything more here than neatly dodging a fair criticism by quietly agreeing with it and then moving on?  After all, Colson is still pimping the Manhattan Declaration against marriage equality.  

If we are to believe that Colson is admitting that heterosexuals are responsible for the health of the legal institution they’ve largely reserved for themselves, he needs to flesh out “our homes and our churches” by confessing his own complicity in the erosion of the institution and by calling on his radical-right “natural marriage” colleagues to do the same.  Jesus said, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”

You see, Chuck Colson is divorced and remarried.

Colson’s first marriage, with Nancy Billings in 1953 bore three children…before ending in divorce in 1964 after some years of separation.  He married Patricia Ann Hughes on April 4, 1964.

Colson is not alone in being a fly in the marriage ointment.  Many leaders of the anti-equality movement have ended their own “sacred” and “forever” marriages with divorce.  For example John McCain divorced his first wife Carol Shepp for Cindy after Shepp had a car accident and lost her looks; Rudy Giuliani is on his third wife.  His second wife learned of his plans to divorce her when he made a public announcement; Larry Stickney has had two no-fault divorces and is on his third wife; Newt Gingrich, famous for divorcing his first wife while she was in the hospital recovering from cancer surgery, has been married three times and divorced twice.  He was having an extra-marital affair even as he presided over the Clinton impeachment trials.

Colson has taken a positive baby step in admitting that heterosexuals are responsible for debasing marriage.  But a wink and a nod isn’t enough.  He must stop scapegoating gay and lesbian families.  Anything short of that and he only embarrasses himself by transparently resorting to diversionary tactics to avoid taking responsibility for his own messy human life.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin