Since so many of my posts are about my struggles with forgetting the past, depression, etc., I decided to tackle a happy topic today.
Pretty, great, right? Keep coming back, folks, I’ll make your day brighter.
This is a subject that I spend a great deal of my existence thinking about, talking about, and focused on. When I worked in residential, a huge portion of my teenage boys had a history of molesting other children, and with the exception of one, all of them had been abused as well. Now, as an elementary school teacher, it is still such an issue. So many of my kids have documented sexual abuse and so many more have some that have yet to be documented. It sounds strange, but after working with these clientele for over a decade now, I can typically tell when a child has been a victim of sexual abuse, documented or not. Most of the time, you can just feel it, it seeps off of them, or they display certain things that are tale, tale signs. It’s horrible when you know it is either going on at the time or has happened in the past, but there is nothing you can do, nothing you can report, it’s just a gut knowledge that you can’t do anything with. However, it seems that it doesn’t do that much good to report it anyway, they almost always send them back. Time after time, I’ve seen it. I had one girl (years ago) who tried to kill herself, blood all over the bathroom—she almost succeeded—because she didn’t want to go back home to her sexually abusive father. The State still sent her. A dollar’s a dollar, folks.
As a gay man, it has always been an issue for me. So hyper awake of my boundaries—people making comments that they wouldn’t trust their kids to a male youth pastor or teacher, let alone a gay one! Time after time, on news or the radio, gay men are paired with child molesters and abortion (drives me nuts!!!). It is only in the past year when I have finally let myself relax a bit and hug my students. All the other teachers do, and so many children—especially the boys, are so hungry for positive and healthy touch that they never get.
At Disney World (Hollywood Studios, actually), I was riding the Rockin’ Rollercoaster. A mother had two young daughters, and one was scared and wanted to ride with her mom. Her other daughter rode behind her in the cart with me. We were fine, getting along splendidly. As I do with all little girls—how could I not, I am one most of the time. The attendant came up and started insisting that the mom and daughter switch carts with this daughter and me so that I would be in front of her and she could see us. The mom kept saying that everything was fine. The attendant kept insisting, but finally let it go. I wasn’t offended at all, and offered to move with mom willingly. I tend to err on that side of things myself—I am always on the lookout for a situation that could be made safer or a situation that I think I need to watch over carefully. To me, the attendant was right, and I also felt like it would protect me as well. No one is going to believe a man over a little girl. This also wasn’t a case of gay ‘stereotyping’ either. I couldn’t have looked straighter if I had tried, and not in a good, attractive way. Shorts (shudder) and a wal-mart t-shirt. It was just a man-child-stereotype.
Yesterday, I read an article about British Airways’ policy disallowing any men to sit beside children riding alone. The article was getting quite a bit of dialogue. Many people very upset about the sexism of it and how it implies that women don’t molest children but all men do. It is well documented the number of male perpetrators greatly outnumbers female perpetrators. However, I have worked with many female child-molesters—both children and adult [the latter, only have met and dealt with—not worked with]. Again, this wasn’t a case of ‘gay’ or not. It was simply male. Men molest children.
I don’t really know the correct response to this. On a core level, it is offensive—hugely—as a man and as gay man. I think it also makes men (of both orientations) very leery of children and hold them at arms’ length (figuratively and literally) which is the last thing children need. It makes all men look like sexual deviants. On the other hand, (even though most molestation is home based—not some random demented psychopath—which makes it even scarier and sicker) something has to be done to protect the overwhelming number of child molested continuously.
So, no answers, just ramblings—as ever.