I just completed recurrent child protection training for a voluntary organization that I belong to. I wanted to share the following information. I highlighted one statement in bold from the training that I felt was important for adults of any organization to remember.
Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,Robert
Moreover, the principles we’ll discuss here are good to know if you have children or grandchildren of your own who are active in clubs or sports.
1. Summarize basic facts about child abuse.
Most victims know their abusers. If you presume that abusers are dirty old men hiding in dark alleys, you are mistaken. In our hypothetical example, Stan was a pillar of the community who maintained a top secret clearance.
Abusers may be young or old, straight or gay, married or single.
Many victims hesitate to come forward. For this reason the problem of child abuse is surely worse than the police reports show. Youth organizations, sports teams, church groups, etc., are target rich environments for the potential abuser.
Most abusers pursue a long-term strategy of isolating a potential victim, gradually taking the relationship into inappropriate areas, and then somewhere down the road, when the opportunity is ripe, they make their move. That’s exactly what “Stan” did in our hypothetical example.
It is highly common for the abuser’s friends and acquaintances to never suspect any wrongdoing by the abuser. The “superstar mentor” is the last person you’d expect to harm a young person. If the adult’s behavior is a little strange, the adult bystanders tend to assume there’s a good explanation. Knowing this, many abusers have clever explanations ready. Over-trusting him, Stan’s friends believed his excuses.
After an abuser is uncovered, friends and acquaintances are apt to look back in disbelief. “How could I be so stupid? There were so many warning signs, but I just didn’t see them.” With Stan, it’s obvious that the heavy volume of texts and calls, sharing of hotel rooms, long drives together, loans, unnecessary one-on-one contact, adult humor, and general favoritism, taken together, showed that he was grooming a victim.
Good people tend to over-trust their organization, too. They are naturally proud of their organization and may presume that the “national office” somehow always keeps the bad apples out. In the Scouting abuse scandals of the 1980s and 1990s, bystanders rejected warning signs about an adult who transferred into their unit, believing that the old unit and/or national office would have caught this guy if he was trouble.
Good mentoring and wicked, sneaky behavior that abusers use to groom a victim overlap. For example, a good mentor will get to know a cadet, where he attends school, what his family situation is like, what his goals and worries are. An abuser might also get to know the cadet in a similar way. The good mentor’s motives are pure. The abuser’s are not.
Consequently, it isn’t easy to spot an abuser. And, there’s a potential for honest bystanders to get hoodwinked by the abuser’s schemes because the abuser presents himself as a superstar mentor.