Jump directly to the content
Protecting Innocence

Protecting Innocence

We're all responsible to stop child sexual abuse
Average Rating:
6 Comments

The first-grader swung her lunchbox as she strolled toward school. She chose her usual shortcut, a dirt path through 50 feet of forest before an open field. Suddenly, a strange man stepped from behind a pine tree, blocking her path.

"Come with me," he said, looming above her. "I'll give you some nice toys. Then you can go to school."

Utterly naïve as well as petrified, she followed him. The man led her to an empty unit in a nearby abandoned apartment building. "Take off your pants and underwear," he ordered, and he lay down on his back to wait.

As she nervously fiddled with the button on her pants, the man abruptly announced, "You can go to school now." The girl fled the building and sprinted the mile to school, chest pounding.

This story is mine, and I have thanked God countless times that a stranger stopped before violating me. I nearly became one of an estimated 60 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse in our country. As many as one in three girls and one in seven boys in the United States is sexually abused before age 18.

Children in Danger

Why have we been unable to stop this epidemic of abuse? Why are American children safer on an airplane than in their own homes? Why are so many young children, prime targets for active abusers, so unaware of the dangers?

Many experts recommend parents drown-proof toddlers around age 2. I don't mean to suggest abuse-proofing toddlers. But what would happen if parents, caregivers, schools, and churches raised awareness in the minds of young children much earlier—before our children were wounded?

As a young child, I had never heard of abuse. I hid my narrow escape, silently accepting my teacher's scolding for tardiness. At home, I told my mother a stranger had made me follow him, omitting the frightening details.

Whether at the hands of a stranger, a neighbor, or a trusted family member, mere minutes of abuse inflict wounds that leave scars for a lifetime. Consider the research. Guilt is almost universal among abuse victims. Many children keep their abuse a secret. But as long as the secret is kept, fear, suffering, and psychological distress will, like the secret, remain with the victim.

I escaped without harm. But child victims struggle to develop healthy self-esteem, positive feelings about sexuality, and trusting relationships. They are more likely to struggle with pornography or sex addictions. They may battle with substance abuse, eating disorders, and even prostitution. Nearly 6 in 10 prostituting men and women reported being sexually abused as a child, in a 1998 study by psychologist and prostitution researcher Melissa Farley.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 4Next PageLast Page

Sign up for TCW's free ParentConnect e-newsletter for weekly updates and help and encouragement for raising the next generation of Christ-followers.

not a subscriber?

Subscribe for only $9.95 yearly!
Start here for complete access to Today's Christian Woman—a mentor to help you love God more deeply and live fearlessly.

Next Steps

Downloadable resources to go deeper

Growing Faith in Your Growing Teen

Your key role in nurturing your child's spiritual development

Navigating the Tough Stuff with Your Teenager

You play a powerful role in guiding your adolescent.

ratings & comments

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–3 of 6 comments

Marie Harville

February 22, 2013  6:19pm

As part of the Grandma Project in Wichita, KS some retired grandmothers and I go to elementary and middle schools to talk to the kids about bullying, abuse and trafficking. We also set up "I Care" teams of kids who make posters to teach others about what they have learned and how they can use a "buddy system" to help each other. We also speak at churches and other organizations to educate adults. You can find us online at www.yardsignsagainstchildabuse.com to watch our videos and different activities around the city. Check us out to find out how to start a Grandma Project in your city!

Report Abuse

Judi

February 21, 2013  7:34am

The article is a very good one, should be given out in schoolks churches etc. a real eye opener it is, would share it with other parents

Report Abuse

Brenda Carr

February 18, 2013  9:30am

My adopted mom passed this article on for me to read. As a victim of childhood sexual abuse, I found this article refreshing that there should be no fear in the truth. I am in my 50's now, and still dealing with some of the effects of prolonged sexual abuse during my childhood. While I have scars from my past, they are evidence of healing...there is hope for the victim to live a whole and healthy life after sexual abuse. God has blessed me with a loving husband and two beautiful children. I had the privilege of raising my children in a much different home than I was raised in. Like the writer, I am an advocate for educating everyone about how to prevent child abuse. Every time I have opportunity to share my testimony I will have women of all ages come up to me and say they have never told anyone about what happened to them. Thank you Dawn for this valuable resource.

Report Abuse

Rate and comment on this article: *

Low

High

1000 character limit

* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.

More For Women
Gifted for Leadership

gifted for leadership

The Leadership Journal blog inspires and connects women leaders in church ministry
Shopping