Myth #1 – Boys and men can’t be victims.
This myth, instilled through masculine gender socialization and sometimes referred to as the “macho image,” declares that males, even young boys, are not supposed to be victims or even vulnerable. We learn very early that males should be able to protect themselves. In truth, boys are children – weaker and more vulnerable than their perpetrators – who cannot really fight back. Why? The perpetrator has greater size, strength, and knowledge. This power is exercised from a position of authority, using resources such as money or other bribes, or outright threats – whatever advantage can be taken to use a child for sexual purposes.
Myth #2 – Most sexual abuse of boys is perpetrated by homosexual males.
Pedophiles who molest boys are not expressing a homosexual orientation any more than pedophiles who molest girls are practicing heterosexual behaviors. While many child molesters have gender and/or age preferences, of those who seek out boys, the vast majority are not homosexual. They are pedophiles.
Myth #3 – If a boy experiences sexual arousal or orgasm from abuse, this means he was a willing participant or enjoyed it.
In reality, males can respond physically to stimulation (get an erection) even in traumatic or painful sexual situations. Therapists who work with sexual offenders know that one way a perpetrator can maintain secrecy is to label the child’s sexual response as an indication of his willingness to participate. “You liked it, you wanted it,” they’ll say. Many survivors feel guilt and shame because they experienced physical arousal while being abused. Physical (and visual or auditory) stimulation is likely to happen in a sexual situation. It does not mean that the child wanted the experience or understood what it meant at the time.
Myth #4 – Boys are less traumatized by the abuse experience than girls.
While some studies have found males to be less negatively affected, more studies show that long term effects are quite damaging for either sex. Males may be more damaged by society’s refusal or reluctance to accept their victimization, and by their resultant belief that they must “tough it out” in silence.
Myth #5 – Boys abused by males are or will become homosexual.
While there are different theories about how the sexual orientation develops, experts in the human sexuality field do not believe that premature sexual experiences play a significant role in late adolescent or adult sexual orientation. It is unlikely that someone can make another person a homosexual or heterosexual. Sexual orientation is a complex issue and there is no single answer or theory that explains why someone identifies himself as homosexual, heterosexual or bi-sexual. Whether perpetrated by older males or females, boys’ or girls’ premature sexual experiences are damaging in many ways, including confusion about one’s sexual identity and orientation.
Many boys who have been abused by males erroneously believe that something about them sexually attracts males, and that this may mean they are homosexual or effeminate. Again, not true. Pedophiles who are attracted to boys will admit that the lack of body hair and adult sexual features turns them on. The pedophile’s inability to develop and maintain a healthy adult sexual relationship is the problem – not the physical features of a sexually immature boy.
Myth #6 – The “Vampire Syndrome”?that is, boys who are sexually abused, like the victims of Count Dracula, go on to “bite” or sexually abuse others.
This myth is especially dangerous because it can create a terrible stigma for the child, that he is destined to become an offender. Boys might be treated as potential perpetrators rather than victims who need help. While it is true that most perpetrators have histories of sexual abuse, it is NOT true that most victims go on to become perpetrators. Research by Jane Gilgun, Judith Becker and John Hunter found a primary difference between perpetrators who were sexually abused and sexually abused males who never perpetrated: non-perpetrators told about the abuse, and were believed and supported by significant people in their lives. Again, the majority of victims do not go on to become adolescent or adult perpetrators; and those who do perpetrate in adolescence usually don’t perpetrate as adults if they get help when they are young.
Myth #7 – If the perpetrator is female, the boy or adolescent should consider himself fortunate to have been initiated into heterosexual activity.
In reality, premature or coerced sex, whether by a mother, aunt, older sister, baby-sitter or other female in a position of power over a boy, causes confusion at best, and rage, depression or other problems in more negative circumstances. To be used as a sexual object by a more powerful person, male or female, is always abusive and often damaging.
Believing these myths is dangerous and damaging.
- So long as society believes these myths, and teaches them to children from their earliest years, sexually abused males will be unlikely to get the recognition and help they need.
- So long as society believes these myths, sexually abused males will be more likely join the minority of survivors who perpetuate this suffering by abusing others.
- So long as boys or men who have been sexually abused believe these myths, they will feel ashamed and angry.
- And so long as sexually abused males believe these myths they reinforce the power of another devastating myth that all abused children struggle with: that it was their fault. It is never the fault of the child in a sexual situation – though perpetrators can be quite skilled at getting their victims to believe these myths and take on responsibility that is always and only their own.
For any male who has been sexually abused, becoming free of these myths is an essential part of the recovery process.
Adapted from a presentation at the 5th International Conference on Incest and Related Problems, Biel, Switzerland, August 14, 1991.
Via MENWEB and in cooperation with M.A.L.E.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
State laws nationwide prohibit sex offenders from working as school teachers, coaches and school bus drivers, but most laws do not prevent them from sitting in a lifeguard chair, teaching karate, coaching youth, or dance instructors in the private sector. There is a laundry list of jobs that are not regulated federally that a convicted sex offender can obtain. This fact is beyond scary and government must take immediate action to stop it.
The current federal law, known as the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, leaves it up to states to decide where convicted sex offenders can be employed.
YMCA’s have begun revoking the memberships of registered sex offenders in a move to comb out predators who may come in contact with the thousands of children who use Y’s.
Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY, is proposing legislation that would close what he is calling loopholes in the federal law that currently allow pedophiles to work with children. “Sex offenders are different than just about any other criminal because the percent of recidivism is huge and the chance of rehabilitation is unfortunately small,” Schumer told ABCNews.com.
According to the Center for Sex Offender Management, a part of the U.S. Department of Justice, between 12 and 14 percent of sex offenders are known to have repeated their crimes. Data does show, however, that many sex crimes go unreported and the statistic could be low.
Ultimately every company should have in place a complete background check of every potential employee (National, State and County). And, periodic checks should be in place.
As parents and guardians it is your J-O-B to be proactive as the safety of your children is in your hands. There is so much information at our fingertips today. Do not be afraid to ask questions, do not be nervous about what others may think if you inquire or you feel that something may not seem “right”. Speak up, be a voice. You would rather be safe than sorry. And, you have every right to know what the policy is of the company or organization is that your child is attending or participating in. Also, ask the organizations if the staff is certified in Stewards of Children, a training prevention program based on Darkness to Light’s 7 Steps to Protecting our Children that teaches adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Common traits of sex offenders should help you raise the red flag on inappropriate relationships between adults and your children.
- Adults who seem preoccupied with children
- Single adults who work or volunteer with children’s clubs/activities and frequently spend their free time doing “special” things with kids
- Adults who spend time volunteering with youth groups who do not have children in those groups
- Adults who seem to engage in frequent contact with children, i.e., casual touching, caressing, wrestling, tickling, combing hair or having children sit on their lap
- Adults who act like children when with children or who allow children to do questionable or inappropriate things
- Adults who want to take your children on special outings too frequently or plan activities that would include being alone with your child
- Adults who do not have children and seem to know too much about the current fads or music popular with children
- Adults that your children seem to like for reasons you don’t understand
- Adults who seem able to infiltrate family and social functions or are “always available” to watch your kids
Talking to your kids about abuse and keeping the line of communication open with your kids is key.
- Use proper or semi-proper names for body parts (penis and vagina), and phrases like: Private parts are “private and special.”
- Tell your children that if anyone touches or tries to see their private parts; tries to get them to touch or look at another person’s private parts; shows them pictures of or tries to take pictures of their private parts; talks to them about sex; walks in on them in the bathroom; or does anything that makes them feel uncomfortable to tell you or a “support person” as soon as they can.
- Tell your children that some children and adults have “touching problems.” These people can make “secret touching” look accidental, and they should still tell you even if they think it might have been an accident.
- Tell your children that touching problems are kind of like stealing or lying, and that the people who have those kinds of problems need special help so they don’t continue to have problems or get into trouble. Don’t describe it as a “sickness.”
- Tell your children that some people try to trick kids into keeping touching a secret. Tell your children, “We don’t want those kinds of secrets in our family.”
- Give your children examples of things that someone might use to try to get them to keep a secret: candy, money, special privileges, threats, subtle fear of loss, separation, or punishment.
- Make sure they have support people they can talk to at home, at school, in their extended family, neighborhood or church. Have them pick out three people and tell you who they are. Put the phone numbers next to your home phone and let them know that, if for any reason they cannot talk to you, they should call or go see another support person.
Resources (Where Do Sex Offenders Live in Your Neighborhood?):
Download the app, “Find Sex Offenders” for FREE for iPhones and Adroids TODAY! Not only will it give you exact locations of an offenders address and more it displays the nearest police and fire departments.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Taking a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, Anny Jacoby is a Prevention Specialist and an authorized Facilitator for Stewards of Children through the Darkness to Light program, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse.
Please contact Anny to schedule Children’s of Steward’s training or to arrange a Prevent Now! meeting for your community.
When we were young our parents sent us off to school and camp with statements such as: “Be a good listener.” “Mind your manners.” “Do what your counselor tells you to do.” “A tough teacher is a good teacher.” I can’t even imagine saying blanket statements like this to my 10 year old today. In fact, almost the opposite is said at our house. We want him to be polite but NEVER at the expense of his safety and just because an adult, like a teacher or counselor, tells him to do something, if it makes him uncomfortable or confused… guess what? He doesn’t have to do it! He has the right to say “NO” and he knows it. Blind obedience versus knowing when and how to be assertive is on my mind as my son tells me this experience he had at camp:
My son is at a new camp. The first two days when changing for swim they changed in a huge bathroom that had stalls. My son (as did the other boys) went into their individual stalls and changed. The third day they were brought to a smaller bathroom (no clue why) and there were no stalls. My son said to the counselor, “I want to change in the stall.” The counselor said “We are in a rush just change here, hurry up.” My son responded, “I don’t want anyone to see me and I don’t want to see anyone else’s privates.” (Now remember he is growing up with one of the founders of KidSafe Foundation and could probably teach the lessons himself at this point.) The counselor raised his voice and told him he had to change. He refused. The counselor got the Director of the camp, who amazingly told my son, “I absolutely respect your right to privacy and you don’t ever have to change in that bathroom again – you can always go to the big bathroom.” Crisis solved. (Well almost – as this was not handled well by the group counselor.)
I can’t even explain to you how proud my husband and I were of him. Thankfully this was just a very minor thing – Just a counselor wanting his camper to hurry up and get dressed for swimming…no big deal right? But what if the counselor or teacher asked a child to do something inappropriate, sexual and unsafe? I want my child, your child, and every child to know they have the right to be SAFE. They have the right to speak up and be assertive if they are uncomfortable…and just because the person telling you to do something is an adult, especially the adult that is in charge at that time, it does not mean a child has to be blindly obedient.
After sharing my story with a few friends (many of their children have been through the KidSafe program), they shared similar stories…especially around the issues of changing for swim and privacy. My friend described that after a few days at camp she finally realized her son’s bathing suit was coming home dry. When she asked him if he was swimming he said that he and a bunch of other boys are not swimming because they didn’t have anywhere to change with privacy. When she called the camp – she understood that the boys were given an option by the counselor – change out with everyone – or don’t swim. They chose to not swim. After speaking to the director – who was embarrassed that the situation was not handled well by his staff, my friend used the experience as a teachable moment. She was so proud that he had spoken up and was assertive – but taught him that the next step is to come to a trusted adult and explain what happened. He has a right to swim and a right to privacy. Wow – it was amazing to have this anecdotal feedback that our lessons stick… the children get it! Some of the parents were surprised by their children’s assertiveness…I was thrilled!
I have to admit that dropping my son off at a camp where neither he nor I knew a soul was difficult for me. I left with a heavy heart, a little anxious….even though I did all the due diligence I needed to feel comfortable with the camp we choose, you still can’t help but wonder…will my child be safe? Parents ask us most often, “When can my child have more independence?” I respond with a question back to them: “What have you taught your child about their personal safety that you feel they will make the safest and smartest choices when faced with new challenges?”
I realized that we have raised our 10 year old to be polite…but assertive. To listen to an adult…but think first how it makes him feel…to speak up if something is uncomfortable.. but to hold his ground if he doesn’t feel safe and to report what happens to a trusted adult. I was proud and realized something important. It is not just what you tell your child, it’s how you ask questions of your child to get them to tell you about their day away from you.
Ask: Open ended questions – Don’t just ask: How was your day? The answer will be: fine.
Ask: Tell me 3 high lights of your day? And 3 low lights. Ask them for the play by play of their day. Once they get talking you can enjoy the info as well as see how they cope during the day and what areas they might need some practice in.
So as your kids go off to summer activities…and then back to school rethink what you may be teaching them…Does your child know they have the right to say “NO” to anyone that makes them feel uncomfortable? Even an adult? Have you talked with your child about this? Do you just assume your child knows he has these rights? Or have you actually had this discussion? Do you assume your child knows he/she can come to you about anything? Or have you actually had this conversation. If you have not – it is never too late. Start the conversation and keep it going!
Via Kid Safe Foundation, Inc. – commending and thanking Kid Safe Foundation for all that they do for our children.
Take care and STAY SAFE!