Why does everybody always want to blame the clowns?
“Clowns Seen in Wooded Areas Luring Children to Join Them,” makes for an attention-getting headline, but what about the rest of the facts? In Greenville and Spartanburg, SC not a single case of “clown sightings” has been confirmed, and while I would never want my child to follow a clown or anyone else into the woods, let’s get a few things straight before we continue the descent into mass hysteria.
It is a tragedy each and every time any child is sexually abused. It is both shocking and repulsive, but for a minute, let’s forget the clowns and put this alleged clown problem into perspective and look to where child sexual abuse happens most often.
People who prey upon the innocence of children most certainly seek out places where there are children. It stands to reason that places such as playgrounds, recreation centers, amusement and water parks, and the like are venues where one might expect a child molester to seek out victims. But we don’t live in a world where “stranger danger” is the most prevalent source of abuse to children.
The cold hard truth is that NINETY percent of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way and SIXTY-EIGHT percent are abused by a family member. When we talk about child sexual abuse, more than likely, we need to look across from us at the dinner table, rather than shifting the focus to a stranger in a clown suit.
Do we need to address the issue of people dressed as clowns attempting to lure children? Of course! Does every youth-serving organization need to have a protocol for preventing, recognizing, and reacting responsibly to child sexual abuse? Absolutely! Should employees of such institutions have criminal background checks and extensive reference checks? Yes! Add to that list, the fact that as parents and caregivers we need to be vigilant about watching our children and protecting them from predatory behavior.
But the reality that most of us don’t want to face remains – child sexual abuse is far more likely to happen at the hands of a family member than it is at the hands of a rogue clown, or a water park attendee, or even a Catholic priest.
Learn the facts, pay attention, and trust your instincts, because the more we know, the better we can protect our littles and prevent abuse in the first place.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!