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Source: (consider it) Thread: Speaking publicly about the sexual abuse of children
Evensong
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How do we speak publicly about the sexual abuse of children without further harming victims?

It seems to me a very strong approach about the harm has the potential to cause more harm to the victims.

On the other hand, saying nothing at all publicly seems to condone the old thoughts of some that it doesn't cause any harm at all.

Your thoughts? Your experience?

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a theological scrapbook

Posts: 9471 | From: Australia | Registered: Apr 2009  |  IP: Logged
Barnabas62
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Welcome back, Evensong.

I think a reasonable distinction can be drawn between the general challenge of safeguarding children and discussing the horrors of specific cases. For the latter, I appreciate there is the real danger of opening up other wounds.

It's not an easy issue. I feel a bit conflicted, seeing both the positive and negative values of trial publicity, and I'll be interested in Shipmates' views. I've counselled abuse victims and see the dilemma.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

Posts: 20819 | From: Norfolk UK | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
Evensong
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Thank you Barnabas.

Perhaps I should explain my thoughts a bit more with an example.

In some cultures it was socially acceptable for adults to have sex with children. I think it was not uncommon in Greek culture for teachers to have sex with their students as a means of strengthening the student teacher bond.

Now we don't know how the children felt about this but the point being it was socially acceptable so presumably the children felt no particular shame as this was just the way it was.

If we are too strident in propounding the harm we believe this can cause (as victims have told us and society now accepts) and are vocal that this is socially unacceptable, are we not making things potentially worse for the victims?

See what I mean??

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a theological scrapbook

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mr cheesy
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quote:
Originally posted by Evensong:

In some cultures it was socially acceptable for adults to have sex with children. I think it was not uncommon in Greek culture for teachers to have sex with their students as a means of strengthening the student teacher bond.

Mmm. Well it was certainly a common part of life in ancient Greece, I'm not sure that it has really been acceptable behaviour in many places other than small islands like Pitcairn for a very long time.

But it is certainly true that philosophers like Socrates had a special young lover, a practice which Plato seems to think brings ruin.

quote:
Now we don't know how the children felt about this but the point being it was socially acceptable so presumably the children felt no particular shame as this was just the way it was.
Well I don't know - it seems to me that there has always been worries about the corruption of having older adults getting sexually intimate with young people.

quote:
If we are too strident in propounding the harm we believe this can cause (as victims have told us and society now accepts) and are vocal that this is socially unacceptable, are we not making things potentially worse for the victims?

See what I mean??

Not really. I think young people are quite capable of feeling shame about sexual exploitation by adults without needing someone to tell them that it is wrong-because-it-is-socially-unacceptable.

[ 11. September 2017, 11:48: Message edited by: mr cheesy ]

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overheard on a Welsh bus-stop: Jesus don't care about you, he's only interested in your soul

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Barnabas62
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I suppose it is true that when exploitation was normal and acceptable, the exploiters didn't see themselves as doing anything wrong.

But how did the exploited feel? There has been some speculative discussion, based on the general sexual use and abuse of slaves by their owners, that this may have been a factor in Onesimus' flight (Philemon).

Just because exploitative behaviour may have been commonplace, and even accepted as their lot by some of the exploited, that doesn't make it less wrong.

But I think it is helpful to discuss moral trajectories. Personally I think we are more enlightened about the abuses of children, and slaves, and other vulnerable groups, and that represents progress compared with earlier times.

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Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?

Posts: 20819 | From: Norfolk UK | Registered: Feb 2005  |  IP: Logged
chris stiles
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quote:
Originally posted by Barnabas62:
But I think it is helpful to discuss moral trajectories. Personally I think we are more enlightened about the abuses of children, and slaves, and other vulnerable groups, and that represents progress compared with earlier times.

Yes, I agree. The effects of abuse on the abused always existed, and isn't simply something we suddenly 'discovered' in the early 20th century.

.. and I suspect earlier times had more 'robust' ways of dealing with people who were just not coping as a result, similarly to how those who were suffering from PTSD were often shot for cowardice in the Great War.

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Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
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My first thought, particularly given the sensitive of this issue, is why do I need to say anything about this at all? Any contribution to this discussion is part of a wider conversation so is there anything I can add that isn’t just more noise? (If I asked this less often, I’d probably read less and post more). Would listening and asking questions be a more helpful response?

But I’m here so maybe a combination of showing and telling. Show that you care by following good safeguarding practice and ensure that others do too. Offer comfort and support to victims / survivors by listening to them, ensuring their voices are heard and reassuring them that whatever happened was not their fault and that any guilt or shame doesn’t belong to them at all.

Sure, ideas about what’s socially and culturally acceptable evolve over time. And future generations will look at us and wonder how on earth we believed that x was okay. But that doesn’t stop us speaking out strongly about what’s right and wrong. We just need to be careful about how we do it. That’s not changed much.

Tubbs

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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Ethne Alba
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"I just thought it was normal, that's what i was told. It wasn't until i was eight or nine that i realised it wasn't normal. Then i thought it was me that was abnormal"
I 've lost count of the number of times this has been said to me. And no doubt i am not alone.

Some of the general and gentle talk at a very young age in nurseries and schools....about our bodies being our own, about how can say if something upsets us about our bodies....those sorts of things, gentle and non specific; they really help.
These conversations help some very few children to say something to somebody.

In the UK this very gentle and no intrusive encouragement has been ongoing for a while now. And i think it's beginning to work.

(This may or may not be close to what we are talking about here...? Apologies if i'm off beam...)

[ 11. September 2017, 14:57: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:

But I’m here so maybe a combination of showing and telling. Show that you care by following good safeguarding practice and ensure that others do too. Offer comfort and support to victims / survivors by listening to them, ensuring their voices are heard and reassuring them that whatever happened was not their fault and that any guilt or shame doesn’t belong to them at all.

Part of the problem is that "traditionally" victims have received little support and have been shamed for being victims.
There is no perfect balance between open information and protection of the hurt from that information. The combination will be different for each person and, indeed, different for the same person depending on circumstances.
But abuses must be exposed to the light, for it is in darkness they grow.

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So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

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Gramps49
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If we don't speak about the sexual abuse of children, aren't we then tacitly accepting it? No, we need to speak up.

I once taught a class in sexual abuse in a drug and alcohol program. The first time I did it I addressed the group as perpetrators--and I got crucified for doing it!! The next time I addressed the group as victims--it made a world of difference. It opened a great discussion, and many of the men had tears in their eyes. You see, the perpetrators have often been victims themselves when they were younger.

Another friend worked in a prison with people convicted of sex abuse of a minor. He often pointed out he had to be careful about how he spoke of the act of the abuse. He found it seemed to feed their fantasies. Still, when he talked about how they may have been abused as kids they really worked through a lot of issues.

That is not saying all perpetrators were once victims. Nor does it mean all victims will become perpetrators. I am just saying you have to be careful in how you approach it.

Posts: 1885 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged
Gramps49
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A victim's testimony.
Posts: 1885 | From: Pullman WA | Registered: Apr 2011  |  IP: Logged
Tubbs

Miss Congeniality
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Tubbs:

But I’m here so maybe a combination of showing and telling. Show that you care by following good safeguarding practice and ensure that others do too. Offer comfort and support to victims / survivors by listening to them, ensuring their voices are heard and reassuring them that whatever happened was not their fault and that any guilt or shame doesn’t belong to them at all.

Part of the problem is that "traditionally" victims have received little support and have been shamed for being victims.
There is no perfect balance between open information and protection of the hurt from that information. The combination will be different for each person and, indeed, different for the same person depending on circumstances.
But abuses must be exposed to the light, for it is in darkness they grow.

I agree totally. It’s vitally important to ensure that people feel safe about raising concerns and confident that they will be dealt with properly. Including reporting to and co-operating with the authorities.

But one of the key things looking to support others is asking them how best we can help and then listening to what we’re told. And doing that. We can get so caught up in wanting to do something, we end up getting in the way as we're following our own agenda rather than their's.

Tubbs

[ 12. September 2017, 10:56: Message edited by: Tubbs ]

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"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open it up and remove all doubt" - Dennis Thatcher. My blog. Decide for yourself which I am

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simontoad
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Australia is one of the countries to have had a long-running inquiry (a Royal Commission) into the abuse of children. There are so many victims, and so many different reactions to the processes of the inquiry, which included holding public and in camera hearings. There was a group of people who decided to be there as much as they could, because they wanted what happened to be known, they wanted people to know that there were survivors and I'm sure other reasons. I can hardly bear to think about what it cost them.

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The opinions expressed above are transitory emotional responses and do not necessarily reflect the considered views of the author.

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wild haggis
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We do need to talk about abuse but not just sexual abuse.

However, I am ambivalent about chasing up historic abuse. Part of me says of course we must. But another part of me says.........

It was normal, when I was growing up for parents to spank, and sometimes thump their kids for misdemeanors. Thus nearly all parents should be arrested! Looking back, it was wrong, but at that date it was accepted as normal.
Some people today, even use the Bible to allow them to batter their kids! I remember reading a book by James Dobson suggesting that parents use a wooden spoon or paddle to hit their children for misdeamenors because their hands should deliver love, not hit or spank.That is adult reasoning, children don't analyse an action like that.

In Scotland until the 1970's, in schools, the belt was used regularly. There were different thicknesses for different age groups. In England the cane was used. Does that mean that all those teachers should then be tried for abuse?

Sexual abuse is particularly evil. I think, in most cultures SA of minors (those not allowed to marry/set up home) is regarded as wrong and thus hidden.

No one has mentioned FGM. That is a big problem in certain nationalities and is sexual abuse. Rarely are people charged. It is usually carried out by women.

The first SA case I alerted the authorities to, as a teacher, was of a mother abusing her 5 year old son. We rarely talk about women being the perpetrators, but they can be.

But how do you prove historical SA? There have been recent false allegations in Britain, that have wrecked the lives of the families and those accused.The whole question of historic abuse is difficult. That's not to say what went on wasn't wrong. It was evil. But it's too easy for the media to become hysterical and broadcast allegations, whether true or false. I think that they should be silenced until there is proof before people's lives - both sides - are ruined/ruined further.

There are teachers who misuse their power. But there are also kids, even in primary schools, who will make false allegations. I have been in schools where teachers' lives and careers have been ruined by a children who took against the teacher/s because they told them off or some other reason, making a false allegation of sexual or physical abuse, thinking they would get rid of the teacher and their problems would be solved - usually not. There was even a case at a primary school I was at, where a child thought it was great fun to accuse a teacher of hitting them when she didn't. The effect on that teacher's family was horrendous. Teachers need to exercise care because they are in a position of power by nature of their job. But every allegation needs to be carefully weighed up.

We MUST talk about sexual abuse and make kids aware today of what is allowed and what isn't. Sexting is a huge problem. Even in primary schools. Pornography has become endemic with the use of IT, again even in the primary school. If we don't talk about it and discuss why it is wrong, we are heaping up huge problems, even greater than we have already.

I remember in the 1980s, we had a campaign in primary schools about "my body is my body......." There was a song and a video which we used. Guess who was the main person on the video making the plea was..............Rolf Harris!!!!!

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wild haggis

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by wild haggis:
We do need to talk about abuse but not just sexual abuse.

All abuse is bad. Sexual abuse is in a different category to physical abuse for several reasons.
One is that it is still problematic today to discuss in ways that other abuses are not and another is that there are no shades of grey.
Most other abuses do not have so distinct a separation.
I'd also argue for keeping the discussions of different abuses separate because they tread different paths. Combining the discussion can muddy this.


quote:

No one has mentioned FGM. That is a big problem in certain nationalities and is sexual abuse. Rarely are people charged. It is usually carried out by women.

Well, this isn't a cataloguing of types of abuse, but rather a communication of sexual abuse thread.

--------------------
So goodnight moon, I want the sun
If it's not here soon, I might be done
No it won't be too soon 'til I say goodnight moon

- A. N. Parsley, D. Mcvinni

Posts: 16505 | From: the round earth's imagined corners | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged


 
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