Hiding in Plain Sight
Reprehensible conduct and questionable parenting is now rewarded in the world of entertainment. Whole careers are built on the infamy produced by starkly sexual and instantly shared Internet imagery. Million dollar enterprises erupt overnight driven by Twitter drivel. Openly exploitive uses of children are paraded across our television sets and passed off as family entertainment when the potential for disaster is immediately apparent to anyone with a sense of history and an innate sympathy for famous children.
If you Google the word "jailbait" you’ll find 2,400,000 ‘results!’ Paris Hilton? 35,800,000 results in 0.26 seconds. Kim Kardashian, 106,000,000 website results in 0.16 seconds. Coach Joe Paterno? 288,000,000 results in a tenth of a second.
A Mother Teresa inquiry? 11,500,000 results in 0.11 seconds.
What’s wrong with this picture?
"Dance Moms." "Teen Moms." "Toddlers & Tiaras." That’s what’s wrong.
I almost don’t know where to begin this essay. Something ominous is developing in our society, a cancerous growth worming its way through the culture and the signs are everywhere you find a child…playing fields, theaters, schools and churches.
I have often heard it said that the problem with children is that they don’t come with an Owner’s Manual. Now, that’s a nifty little saying but it’s just not true. We who so haphazardly bring these children into the world, we adults, only procreate after our childhood is behind us. For better or worse, my friends, it is our own childhoods that prepare us for parenthood. We are the Manual, our lives and the lessons learned from our experience.
When it comes to raising kids, the tried and true have been thrown on the trash heap. The tested and proven is discarded. What once worked is scorned. New modalities are adopted without thought or concern for future risks and scant attention is paid to the lessons of history.
How hard is it really to put yourself into the mind of a child? You were once there. Good or bad, you, too, were once little…unsure…fearful and yet trusting. You, too, knew there were things you hadn’t learned yet, but you hungered for a teacher. The need to be held and comforted, to be told there were no monsters under the bed, existed in you as surely as it does in today’s children.
When did it become fashionable to believe that children will save the world when the hard fact is that children need to be protected from the world? Is it too many Disney movies? Since when do we accept the premise that dangerous behaviors carry the same risks for kids as for adults?
I share the anger and outrage most grown men exhibit when confronted with the serial sexual abuse of kids that is eating at Penn State. A young man witnessed a terrible act in real-time. Rescuing a ten year-old child from a sexual assault by a sixty year-old man in the shower room would be for most men and women an automatic intervention-response in any world I want to live in, not unlike pulling a child out of the path of an approaching vehicle.
But that is not what happened. The crime was reported not stopped. The witness left the scene, talked to his father, then reported the incident to Coach Paterno the next day. The highly respected Coach reported the information not to the police but to his university superiors on the following day, and so on up the chain. Measures were taken to be sure, but the police were never called and another ten years of abuse was allowed to persist. 40 charges have been leveled against the perpetrator as of last Saturday (Nov 5th) and more and more victims are coming forward, 20 at last count.
This morning a talk show host shared a statistic that ought to make you shudder. "Over the course of his life the ‘average pedophile’ has 107 victims."