In light of the Jimmy Savile scandal, every mom and dad must stress to themselves and their families this simple fact: child molesters come in every shape and size and occupation. Neither prominence and power, nor charm and charisma, means an adult is “safe.”
When we see a masked man with a gun and a sack fleeing a bank, we assume he's a robber. When we see a furtive-looking man trying repeatedly to open cars in a dark parking lot, we assume he's a thief.
But when we see a glib, charismatic man violating kids' boundaries and excessively hugging them and making sexual jokes, we assume he's "odd" or “affectionate” or "harmless." We just can't seem to bring ourselves to believe he may be a molester. And thus, we continue to fail our children.
We fail our children by our ignorance and our inability to use our common sense and good judgment. We fail our children when we refuse to act prudently and honor our gut feelings. We fail our children when we put our own comfort level above our children’s’ safety.
We, as a society and as parents, must somehow get over this psychological hurdle and naive assumption that child molesters are obvious social misfits who give us the “creeps.” The opposite is usually true: molesters are typically warm, kind and generous. (If they weren’t, no adult would trust them and no child would want to be with them.) We fail our children if we don't understand this.
Nothing can be done to Savile now. But those who enabled and hid and now even defend or minimize his crimes can – and should – be harshly criticized and shunned and punished, be they a hospital, charity, employer or a callous vicar (like Rev. Cameron). Let’s hope that as the shock of these horrors begins to wear off, our collective resolve to prevent such horrors in the future will firm up and continue.
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