“Man pointing gun has financial transaction at bank. Huh!"

By David Clohessy

Ever seen that headline in your local newspaper? Me neither.

It’s absurd, isn’t it? There’s a word for a guy who uses a pistol or rifle to get what he wants from a bank teller. That word is “robber.”

There’s also a word for an adult who uses sex or power to get what he or she wants from a child. That word is “predator.”

OK, so why does my local newspaper have this headline today: “Woman accused of sex with boy.” Phrases like “sex with” imply consent. And consent is not possible in child sex cases. And it doesn’t matter whether the predator is male or female.


Again, does the bank teller have a “financial transaction with” the robber? Of course not.

Another pet peeve are phrases like “the girl performed oral sex on her teacher.” At best, that makes the child sound and seem like an equal partner. At worst, it makes the child sound and seem like the initiator.

The child is the victim. The abuse is perpetrated on him or her. The adult is the initiator. And the criminal. Period.

I know headline writers and journalists have tough jobs. I know space and deadlines are tight. But can’t we all try harder and do better with language that could heap more blame and shame and pain on the already wounded?

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