Inappropriate kid stuff

By Terry Joseph
May 26, 2006

Part I

Long ago, it was not uncommon for a visiting uncle to demand nieces play “horsie” on his lap, a ritual cheerfully endorsed by parents thinking relatives couldn’t possibly harbour inappropriate fantasies.

Actually, any older man, having earned the trust of those parents through whatever ruse, enjoyed patriarchal rights from the family being visited; such occasions rendered all the merrier if he frequently called at the home bearing trinkets for everyone.

Bereft of an appeal process, objection was futile. A conspiracy of social values forced children into submission and by the same opportunity, imbued the lecher with extraordinary power, enhanced by the tenet: “Little children should be seen and not heard,” which offered safeguards against protest. Uncle was free to insist on as many lap-dances as literally pleased him.

Steadily gaining parental trust, the deviant elder would ramp up the level of the game. His thoroughly inappropriate observation: “Eh! Eh! Like this girl getting little bubbies”, would more likely trigger blushing laughter in the home, than concern among less-astute parents.

He could “pinch the butterfly”, playfully spank prepubescent girls getting too big for their britches or wrestle with boys, each approach containing manoeuvres so subtle, parents either didn’t want to or couldn’t identify ulterior motives from sporadic demonstration. Even when repetition made it obvious, they avoided adducing sinister purpose.

All persons with authority over children had such opportunities and as the folklore will proudly tell you, every adult in the village enjoyed dominion over all its children. The odds of finding a community devoid of sexual predators with such access were clearly not considered.

Far more often than custodians of that era would even today concede, some exemplars abused that power and facility, confident kids wouldn’t squeal, given the social guarantee that if they did, there was a better chance of the child becoming twice the victim than securing redress against the molester.

With the advent of single parenting and concomitant increase in divorce, women desperate to find new mates, selected largely on the basis of how well the man got along with children, often inadvertently delivering fresh temptation into the waiting arms of the paedophile.

None of this is new. According to the 1986 book by Diana E Russell The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (Basic Books, Inc. NY), stepdaughters were over eight times more at risk of sexual abuse by stepfathers than from biological fathers. Unable to complain at home, residual options included interaction with arms of law-enforcement historically dominated by men.

John Crewdson’s 1988 work, By Silence Betrayed: Sexual Abuse of Children in America (Harper & Row) goes one step further, arguing that “a growing number of stepfathers are really “smart” paedophiles, who marry divorced or single women with families as a way of getting close to children.”

Nor does it need be strictly “family” affairs. Mature men are still revered for having a “young thing” as a constant companion, age difference treated as a badge of honour rather than a warning sign.

Culturally, the concept of mature men and very young girls-statutory rape, really-was not only intact but reinforced at every opportunity. Pop legends Billy Idol and Chuck Berry immortalised “Sweet Sixteen” and the Crests hit No. 1 on the American music charts with “Sixteen Candles”.

Calypso had its own skewed appreciation of “Shame and Scandal in the Family”, revelling in the insinuation of “Benwood Dick”. It took decades before Scrunter advised young ladies at risk to “Take the Number”.

In short: dirty old men didn’t descend without warning, nor are they a product of recent vintage. In those days when any adult from the village had authority over the punishment of any child, only some grown-ups used that facility for social good.

What is now painfully obvious is that many used it for sheer evil, sparing the rod-on the one hand-while striking a bargain that would deliver greater long term trauma, creating subsequent generations comprising an even larger percentage of sexual deviants.

Today’s frequency of sexual abuse of minors was therefore promised long before yesterday and by factoring widespread use of mind-altering substances and contemporary liberalism, not to mention evidence from social workers, the number of cases coming to public attention is nowhere near a true indication of episode tally.

We wept for Akiel Chambers and Sean Luke but a new low is established when a sanctuary for abused children, known by the poignant acronym, CRY, becomes the latest cause for tears.

One thought on “Inappropriate kid stuff”

  1. Inappropriate kid stuff

    By Terry Joseph
    June 02, 2006

    Part II

    Parents anxious to supply children with the best available teaching-aid, leap at the chance of getting them computers with high-speed internet facilities but in the absence of close supervision, the same tool offering unlimited information may also be used for inappropriate communication between adult perverts and your precious kids.

    When Marvin Lahkan, a bespectacled and otherwise respectable looking East Indian Trini man living in the US, whose internet chat-room name is Crazy Trini 85, was snared in a sting operation mounted by NBC-Television’s Dateline in collaboration with a watchdog group; he became the 130th sexual predator arrested through this means alone.

    Thinking he was chatting online with a 14-year-old girl, Lakhan not only suggested sexually deviant interpersonal pursuits but went further, asking her to include the family’s house-cat to perform specific acts. Unaware of the set-up and imminent arrest by waiting police officers, the predator told Dateline’s Chris Hansen he was “only messing around.”

    That alone should be enough to warn parents against banishing kids to a bedroom where the computer outfitted with internet access affords a world of adventure. A recent US survey indicates that more than 65 per cent of parents have no idea what their children do on computers for hours each day.

    Because the Internet offers anonymity, unsupervised access makes it a potentially dangerous gadget. Except for known friends of comparable age, kids ought not to be allowed on-screen communication with unknown persons for, without parental control, if only for the sense of adventure it brings, the child will attempt to establish a chat; perhaps with a perverted stranger.

    Hiding behind screen pseudonyms, predators convene, swapping child pornography, inciting each other, sharing conquest stories (real or fantasised), discussing ways to contact and lure children, exchanging tips on seduction techniques and, even more critically, ways and means of avoiding detection.

    According to last Sunday’s New Jersey’s Star Ledger, the State’s Senate is currently pondering a Bill that would debar known sexual predators from ever using the Internet (for any purpose) after first conviction. There are those who find the punishment harsh but, for the most part, public response is: “Better safe than sorry.” After all, it is by far the most common means by which predators lure victims.

    Children are prone to temper tantrums and mood-swings induced by nothing more than jealousy over any situation that appears to divert parental attention away from them and predators feed on that weakness, offering friendship to ameliorate the feeling of being “unwanted”, playing on the kid’s emotions, gaining trust, reinforcing it and then pouncing to collect on time invested.

    The child sees only a new and understanding friend and the predator is willing to sustain the internet chat for as long as it takes to deliver the victim, beginning with a single short exchange per day, building as it goes, sneaking in brief sexual innuendo to test reception. Working parents (or worse, single mothers) who think the kid is upstairs, productively occupied on the computer, perhaps checking homework, should take some time to investigate exactly what transpires on the screen.

    Children who insist on closing the study door while online, or suddenly shut down the system when parents are approaching the room, were quite likely doing something inappropriate and should be made to repeat at least their last transaction. In fact, parents should retain proprietary rights over the computer, reminding the child – where necessary-who owns the system (and therefore regulates its usage).

    Really, one basic rule would go a long way toward diminishing the possibility of your child becoming the next victim of a sexual predator. The child must never release personal information or agree to meet a correspondent and if the computer is fitted with a camera, under no circumstance should images be transmitted.

    The computer is unparalleled as an information source and a necessity for inquisitive minds seeking cutting-edge knowledge and analysis but the same machine is fast becoming the quintessential conduit for the depraved who can, in nano-seconds, lure your kid into inappropriate situations.

    The parent should be the real firewall against such possibilities but unfortunately, far too adults actually boast about how clever their kids are at manipulating the technology, meanwhile admitting: “Me? I don’t know a damn thing about computers.”

    Instead of waiting for reports from each next case of sexual abuse of minors, the Ministry of Social Development should consider focusing on educating parents about dangers lurking behind the computer screen.

    Your next problem could be just a click away.

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