I recently had an interesting experience – I was chosen to sit on a jury. I’ve been called for jury duty many times – I might even say, more than my fair share. I’ve experienced voir dire questioning a number of times, so I didn’t think anything of it when I, along with 76 of my new best friends, sat in a courtroom all day responding to questions by several attorneys. But then, at 4pm on the Tuesday of my jury duty, as they called out the list of 12 jurors plus an alternate, I was fairly certain I heard my name. Yep, I definitely did.
I do not tell you this to now give you instructions on how to get out of a jury, or to walk you through talking to your children about the legal system. I write all this because of the content of the trial I was chosen for: child sexual abuse.
When I bumped into a lawyer friend of mine at the courthouse and simply told him which courtroom I was assigned to he said, “ugh, so you’re in a child abuse case? Sorry.” That means we have so many child sexual abuse cases in our county that it requires a whole court dedicated solely to that topic! Unfortunately, this is an issue that is pervasive in our community and there are no guidelines of who can and cannot be victimized.
Because I love my child and your children, I want to use my experience to address the topic of child sexual abuse. I will only scratch the surface. To some of you, these are obvious measures you’ve employed for years. For others of you, this will all be news to you. Either way, the more of us who are aware of even the simplest preventative measures, the more chance we have to protect our kids from predators.
No, It’s Not Logical
Something my fellow jurors said repeatedly as we deliberated was, “it just doesn’t make sense.” To those of us who are not predators, child sexual abuse doesn’t make sense, so don’t try to make sense of it. You’ll be able to explain it away every time if you try.
Who Am I Looking For?
Well, that’s the thing that we most often get wrong. The VAST MAJORITY of predators are not the “snatch and grab” types. They are people you know and trust. I was amazed at how many times during our deliberation other jurors would say things like, “he doesn’t look like a predator.” Unfortunately, predators have no “look”.
Use Correct Anatomical Names
I am not looking forward to this with my one year old because I am awkward. I always have been. You may be too. Of course it feels weird to call your child’s private parts by their scientific name when they’re two, but just suck it up and do it. Here’s why: when you teach your children the correct terms for their body parts it’s easier to notice when they come home using slang terms for those same parts. It’s easier to start the conversation of, “where did you hear it called that?” Yes, a fellow 2nd grader may have used the term, but you can also ask questions like, “has anyone seen your ____________ recently?”
No Secrets. Only Surprises.
In our house we do not keep secrets. We have surprises. Secrets include information you don’t intend to tell. Predators seek out prey in secret. They use small secrets to see if your child will keep a secret from you and then move on to larger secrets to gain and maintain control over your child. “Why don’t we get ice cream? Your mom will think it’ll spoil your dinner so let’s keep it a secret.” In order to maintain open lines of communication with your child, start from the beginning with a rule of no secrets in your house. If you don’t want your kids to tell your spouse what they’re getting for Christmas, make it a surprise. Surprises are information you tend to share at the right time.
In Munger Kids, we take protecting your kids very seriously. We run background checks every two years on everyone who serves with kids, but we understand that as the minimum in protection. We also require every volunteer to take Ministry Safe Training. This training teaches about what to look for in predators, the grooming process, and kids who are being abused. This training means we have 180+ people at our church watching for signs of foul play. Any predator hoping to prey on one of our kids has to get past an army of informed, loving adults.
I don’t write this post to scare you and it’s not nearly as upbeat as I like to be on a blog, but my experience as a juror really hit home. I love our kids so much and it makes my stomach ache to think anyone would hurt them, but it’s reality. So, until Jesus comes and evil is no more, let’s care for these kids and protect them against those who would seek to harm them.