Prevent Stories of Child Abuse

by Kathy Batesel

Silence promotes child abuse.
Silence promotes child abuse. | Source

Turning a Blind Eye

News stories often report arrests of people who committed child abuse, and quite often, the child's parent was present or even encouraged their child's victimization. While I'm not so naïve to think that everyone believes parenthood is a wonderful gift and would go to great lengths to protect their kids, I've come to recognize that even good parents can expose their children to unnecessary, traumatic harm.

Yesterday, I was privy to a disturbing and shocking online conversation. A child predator approached a young mom and targeted her daughter. I was stunned by his blatant approach, but I was even more disturbed by mom's response.

Keep reading to learn about how she responded, why she behaved the way she did, and what she could have done differently.

Your Opinion

Should parents who don't protect their children from abuse serve jail time?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Other / Undecided
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Child Predators

My husband and I were playing Zynga Poker on our cell phones, something we do a couple times a week. Three other people were in the virtual card room - a guy whose avatar showed a photo of himself. He was in his mid-to-late twenties if the photo was recent, but who knows how old he really might be? There was another player whose name and photo were ambiguous. We couldn't tell if it was a man or woman. Finally, a young mom whose photo showed her holding her toddler daughter. I guessed her age to be mid-twenties, and her lovely daughter was around three or four.

We'd been in the room only minutes when the man, I'll call him "Loser," approached the woman, who I'll call "Too Polite." Loser said "Hi Too Polite." She replied with a simple hello.

"Is that your girl? What's her name?" Loser asked.

Too polite says, "Yeah. Matty."

Loser continues. "She's really cute. How old is she? Is she right there with you?"

Too Polite says, "She's 3. Ya, here with me."

Loser's next questioned prompted me to speak up. "Where are you guys located?"

I tapped out my own response. "This is creepy. Seriously? You need to get a life with someone your own age, guy."

Too Polite's finally catching on, I guess, as her next message is, "Too far."

It appears on my screen at the same time as Loser's reply to me: "LOL." I know this stands for "laughing out loud." A moment later, he answers her, "Ya, too far and cost too much with my girlfriend." I don't know exactly what he meant by that, but I'm happy that the subject goes quiet. The peace only lasts a minute, though, before he sends one of those virtual "gifts," a slice of pizza, to Too Polite. "That's for Matty," he writes.

Too Polite says, "I'll give it to her."

My husband and I are flabbergasted and disgusted as we talk about what we're seeing. I typed out another message, "Dude, you are sick. Get lost."

He types, "LOL."

Too Polite types, "LOL," too. Her response makes me wonder if they might actually be acquainted and are pulling a stunt to see how people respond.

He types, "I'm too good looking to be sick. Matty would agree."

Too Polite sends another LOL his way. I don't bother to respond. My husband and the other person in the room are equally silent as the card game continues. A few minutes later, Loser says, "Gotta go. Tell Matty she's a cutie. And you're not bad, either, Too Polite."

She says, "Thanks. Take care." The moment he's gone, she says, "I'm glad he left. That was weird."

I can't help myself. I write, "You're way too nice to someone like that." This is a mild version of what I want to say and do, because inside, I'm boiling and want to shake some sense into her!

She says, "I know."

What Would You Do?

How would you have handled Loser?

  • I'd have laughed it off, too, and found other ways to protect my child.
  • I'd have spoken up.
  • Unsure / Don't know.
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Parent Responsibility for Protecting a Child

I was glad this was an online room and that Matty probably would not ever meet Loser in her "real" life, but at the same time, I felt sad realizing that this woman would be easy for a child predator to groom so he could gain access to her child. I felt angry and helpless that I couldn't take action to stop Loser from targeting and grooming children in his own world, wherever that may be.

Matty is not my child. I'm not responsible for her well-being. I can't save the world from predators like Loser. But every parent has the duty to protect his or her own children, and being like Too Polite fails to provide that protection.

Physical, Emotional, and Neglectful Abuse

Child molesters aren't the only perpetrators that get away with pushing their agendas beyond acceptable limits. Thousands of children are beaten, emotionally abused, or neglected every year because the people who see what's happening don't speak up. Instead, they are "too polite" and turn a blind eye.

Children need protection.

If you are in a position to speak up, you have a moral duty to.

Stories of Child Abuse are Too Common

As a former prison guard, parent, and survivor of extensive sexual abuse, I've become acquainted with many predators and former victims and their stories. Many survivors look back on their trauma and realize that their own parent either contributed directly to their victimization or refused to take responsibility for protecting their child.

A young woman I'll call N.A. told on her stepbrother, who raped her several times when she was in first and second grade. Her stepmother, the boy's mother, told her to stop making up lies. N.A. was afraid to tell her father after that, and in fact, carried her secret for over a decade before finally sharing her dreadful secret with another trusted adult who didn't doubt her.

Another child, D.C., was raped by a neighbor boy two years older when she was eight. It happened in the basement of the house where she lived while her father was upstairs. She was afraid to tell him. She told her mother, who lived in another state. Her mom called her father and asked him to report it. His response was denial. She remembers hearing him tell her mother, "He's a nice boy. He wouldn't do something like that!"

My own mother was also in the "Too Polite" camp. She'd walked in and found my father molesting me when I was a baby and said, "Maybe you should stop. You'll start her up early if you do that." I learned this from the journals my father kept while he was in the prison's counseling program.

People who are too polite place other things ahead of their child's well-being:

  • They are afraid of confrontation.
  • They're worried about their own image.
  • They may fear loss of household income.
  • They may fear loss of a relationship or friendship with the abuser or the abuser's family members.
  • They may be afraid they won't be believed, either.

Any of these factors can prevent a parent from protecting their children. And to all of them, I say, "HOGWASH!" Your future self-image and community reputation, as well as your financial and emotional well-being are closely tied to how well you take care of your children.

Stop a Predator

Child predators are motivated to commit their crimes because it lets them gain a sense of power where they don't feel they have any. They may use a violent or a seductive approach to achieve their goal, but the one sure way to protect a child is to strip them of the power to reach your child.

Being polite only encourages them to try more!

The conversation Loser had with Too Polite is only unusual because it was so public. Conversations like this one go on day after day. Loser discovers that Too Polite will not take a firm stand, so he keeps pushing to see how far he can go. When he pushes too far, Too Polite will finally speak up. He'll back off his intensity a bit, but keep saying and doing things that she's shown she won't object to. As she gets more accustomed to these violated boundaries, he finds that he, not she, controls what boundaries will be in place. Once she has adjusted fully, he can push further than he could before, and it won't seem like a big or drastic change. Instead of buying a gift for her daughter, he might take her daughter shopping. After a few shopping trips, he might be the one who lets the child buy sexy panties, for instance.

Speaking up early, loudly, and firmly are the keys to stopping abuse. Polite is what lets it continue.

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Comments 11 comments

Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

Ugh. I would have been furious with her, too! I think you're right, people are too polite, or afraid to say anything. It doesn't just happen in child predator situations, it happens other times, too. Almost two years ago, a former boss and one of his friends were way inappropriate to me at work. I was really upset and shocked, but I didn't mention it to anyone for about a week because I was being shy or embarrassed about it or something. I don't know. I should have said something immediately, and I knew I should, but I just couldn't. If it happened again, I know I could/would. Sadly, I think it takes being confronted with an uncomfortable sitution to know how you really would react. I hope your 'too polite' thinks on the event and decides to respond differently next time!


mours sshields 4 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

People need to start standing up! This stuff happens so often. There's a lot of perverted people out there!!

Marcia Ours


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

I hope she (and others) can learn from this - hopefully before they find themselves in that uncomfortable and shocking position!

Thank you both for your comments.


flacoinohio profile image

flacoinohio 4 years ago from Ohio

Your story is chilling, it is sad that there are people in this world that are predatory. Then again, these people could have been a couple doing the same thing as you and your husband, playing cards together on line. It would be great to not have to worry about predators, but then again not everyone is a predator, the conversation you indicated is in that grey area where it is hard to determine what is really going on. Be careful when going into savior mode, it can just be as dangerous as being a predator especially if you are wrong. I liked the ending of this hub though, it accurately represents some of the things a predator may do when grooming his victims.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Flaco! I appreciate your comments and like the important questions it raises.

I personally do not believe speaking up is necessarily savior mode, but I agree that there are people who go too far and victimize innocent people. Speaking up can prevent a predator from taking action in the first place. My goal with this hub is to encourage people to realize that their voice can prevent crimes from happening in the first place - not to prompt them to get involved in things that are beyond their expertise.

That conversation appeared not to be a couple. If it was a couple, it'd be a pretty sick joke in any case, and I'd still hate to let my silence be taken as acceptance!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

It is always such a sad story to hear, and usually could have been prevented had someone spoken up. I believe there should be greater restrictions on predators. They are allowed too much freedom to explore and expand their desires.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

I can't tell you how angry I was as the guy's boldness! I hope that mom will learn to speak up so nobody explores with HER child!


Janis Goad profile image

Janis Goad 4 years ago

This is important information--speaking up loudly and firmly lets the whole room, bus or mall know what is going on, and warns other people too. I'm sharing widely!


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Janis!


whowas 4 years ago

Good hub. I have absolutely zero tolerance for even the slightest hint of child abuse - even 'only' verbal.

In the UK I'm an active campaigner for the organization NSPCC who do marvellous work both in education, prevention and post traumatic support for victims of abuse. Sadly, the most common offenders, as you say, are family members or friends.

One in nine kids in the UK have been sexually or physically abused. If you throw in psychological and emotional abuse, then the figure rises to one in five. And that is only known cases that have gone through the courts. It's the dirtiest secret our culture harbours but it can be brought to a stop.

One of the reasons that folk get away with it is because we are too frightened to speak up in the moment or we just don't want to face up to the reality. But complacency is equal to compliance in these cases. It is much better to risk a little personal embarrassment than a child's welfare.

Thanks for a very important hub.


jellygator profile image

jellygator 4 years ago from USA Author

What you said is worth repeating:

"But complacency is equal to compliance in these cases. It is much better to risk a little personal embarrassment than a child's welfare."

I couldn't agree more! I just learned this week that someone I know and love was brutally raped as a boy. I believe the statistics are woefully under-reported.

Thank you for your insightful comment, whowas!

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