April 15, 2015, Chino Valley- Whilst covering a classroom full of third graders today, I was told by two of the girls, independently of one another, that they had to run from a man who had tried to snatch them into his car. Both said that their parents had kept them safe, once they got away, and that the police had been told.
I showed each of them, vicariously, how to get free of a person who had them in an armhold, from behind. The heel of a shoe is a good, solid defensive weapon, when thrust backward at a would-be captor’s shin. It is important to note that, in neither case, was a weapon being brandished by the assailant. That, of course, is a game-changer, though not one that can withstand a little person’s ear-splitting shriek!
Today marks a year, since the abduction of over 200 school girls by Boko Haram. The Nigerian Army has been unshackled by the country’s new President, and along with forces from neighbouring countries, may well have more success in crushing the brutes of the Islamic far right. We can only pray, in the meantime, for the safe return of ALL children and teens who have been kidnapped or conscripted by the forces of darkness.
This brings me to the concept of defense against physical and sexual abuse of children, anywhere. The first line is always the individual’s realization that no one, at any time, has the right to abscond with his/her body, or mind. These are given each of us, by the Creative Force, and we relinquish them to others at our long-term peril. Secondly, family must defend the child’s well-being, with no regard for monetary gain, promises of support from the transgressors or, in the worst case, giving in to one’s psychological or emotional weaknesses. Thirdly, the community must support the child, hopefully with the family’s blessing, but unilaterally if the family is found to be the source of abuse, or in league with the abuser(s). There was a movement, in the 1980’s, to shift the focus of sexual abuse prevention away from the victim, towards “giving the abuser a chance at healing and redemption”. This was a terribly misguided effort, and set back the healing of thousands of abused children. I was glad to be part of an education effort, in the 1990’s, which reset the focus back on awareness and prevention, with treatment of offenders conducted separately, away from the programs that were concerned with the victims.
When I was accosted by a pedophile,at the age of fourteen, I was able to stand up to him and not be cowed by his loud threats. Nothing further came of his false bravado, and my life has gone on, with normal relationships with girls and women, in the years since. The best defense remains a solid first response of N-O!