Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect
1. Myth – It’s only abuse if it’s violent
Fact – Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect and emotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene.
2. Myth – Only bad people abuse their children
Fact – While it’s easy to say that only “bad people” abuse their children, it’s not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way to parent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
3. Myth – Child abuse doesn’t happen in “good” families
Fact – Child abuse doesn’t only happen in poor families or bad neighbourhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
4. Myth – Most child abusers are strangers
Fact – While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family
5. Myth – Abused children always grow up to be abusers
Fact – It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have a strong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
Myths and Facts about Child Molesters
6. Myth – Anyone who would molest a child is seedy-looking or looks suspicious. I’d know them by looking at them.
Fact – Handsome, rich men molest children. Beautiful, talented women molest children. Ordinary people you laugh with every day molest children. You simply cannot tell a child sexual predator by looking. (But do pay attention to your instincts, which see deeper than a person’s surface appearance.)
7. Myth – Child molesters are unsociable and isolated. If I knew any, I’m sure I naturally wouldn’t like them.
Fact – Most child molesters are known and liked by others. Plus, they cultivate certain relationships in order to gain access to children, and many are genial and personable individuals with whom others enjoy socializing.
8. Myth – Married men don’t molest children–they have their wives. Besides, a married man would only molest a child if he wasn’t getting sex from his wife.
Fact – Marital status doesn’t correlate to whether a person is a sexual predator or not.
Key Fact – A man deprived of sex does not morph into a child sexual predator. Molesting children is about preferring the power position and avoiding vulnerability. The taste for sex with children is separate from a normal human adult sex drive oriented to adults.
9. Myth – He’s a pastor (or teacher, or elder, or highly respected businessman – fill in the blank with anyone) – he would never do that.
Fact – Child molesters can be anyone–anyone at all. We must not hesitate to blow the whistle on a child molester regardless of position, fame, or wealth. Our children are worth more than that.
10. Myth – He has a Ph.D., she’s president of the company–too smart to be doing something that depraved and disgusting.
Fact – Molesting children is not a function of low income or intelligence. Geniuses can be child molesters; millionaires can be child molesters.
11. Myth – A real child molester would never talk about the subject.
Fact – A child molester may say contemptuous things like “Child molesters are the sickest people on the planet” or “Child molesters deserve the death penalty.” The rest of us might say things like that too, so this isn’t an indicator by itself – just a warning that predators know the right line to take.
12. Myth – He hugs and cuddles my child in healthy ways right in front of me, and my child doesn’t resist or fuss. So obviously nothing’s happening.
Fact – Molesters themselves say that they deliberately do this so that your child, the victim, thinks you approve of the way the molester touches them. A child assumes his parents know what’s going on, so when the molester hugs him in front of you and you’re fine with that, the child thinks you’re OK with what happens in private too.