There are two categories of children predominantly likely to be the victim of sex offenders: The Unattended and The Pleasers.
The former category being children raised in broken homes, troubled conditions, foster care, moved around, unsupervised or unmonitored, or particularly left alone to fend for themselves, perhaps even on the street. You might expect these vulnerable children to be natural targets for predators. At least relative to say, the single child of anxious upper-middle class parents cocooned in a bubble of neurotic protection and GPS tracking. You can modestly forgive a single mom working multiple jobs might trust a priest or coach to take her kid away on an overnight. That mom is inclined to believe in the kindness of authority figures. As a practical matter, she needs to.
The Pleasers are the children pushed into achievement by their parents. Young people dependent upon the admiration and largesse of adults. You see this predominantly, though not exclusively, in sports and entertainment. Children whose parents have grand plans for their offspring. Reminding, if not downright pressuring their kids, that their job is to please the gatekeepers. Largely adults. Largely men. Largely adult men who have put themselves into occupations or hobbies involving association with children not their own. The Pleasers might be admonished in the manner of, “Be nicer to Mr. Nassar, he has the ear of U.S. Gymnastics.” When you twin-pack The Pleasers with The Unattended you wind up with 150 sexual assaulted girls standing in a courtroom providing victim impact statements.
The pleas to end the sexual exploitation typically revolve around the extinction of the twisted pedophile. As if that’s a task easier than eliminating cancer or tall people or other naturally occurring special phenomenons. There will always be some portion of the male population, and the occasional splash of female, with a tendency to desire children and the sociopathic tendencies to overcome the guilt and shame that might stop the sane person from indulging in any number of obscene and violent activities during their lifetime. DNA level coding errors are a tremendous obstacle to alter. If you’re building rational models of future law enforcement and criminal justice systems, you know better than to assume away one category of criminal based on hopes and dreams. The violation of all the commandments will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Certainly tougher enforcement, arrest, prosecution, and long term jailing of predators has an impact on the raw numbers of offenses. Despite what you see in media reports and startling headlines, sexual assault crimes across the board are down for twenty years in a row now, with no signs of reversing trend. But this positive stats line belies the fact that there naturally remain a flat percentage of some count of child predators mixed into the general public. Much like we know the NFL is one-hundred percent straight. Not possible. We know there is a predator living and working within some distance to you at this very moment. Chill. You’ll make it through the night.
This necessitates a responsibility for those naturally responsible to protect children to keep up their guard. Versus the opposite approach of completely ignoring the risks to your children of being Pleases or Unattended in advance of a greater goal. A gold medal perhaps? A commercial contract? Bragging rights to your friends on Facebook?
Parents who claim they had no idea that an arrested figure was a child sexual predator are lying. Or stupid. Or stupid and lying. Here’s an idea. Men who love to sexually violate young girls will naturally select themselves into positions in life where they can be around young girls. The way in which horny frat boys will invite sorority girls over to their mixers. Or male peacocks will strut their feathers around peahens. They don’t flash the plume to random mammals passing by for solid show reviews. They are trying to get some. As are the fraternity boys. The guy shopping at Zales or making fancy dinner plans for his date. And pedophiles working or volunteering in positions to be around children. Now, parents, you have some idea.
What are the odds your young daughter will tell you the guy who designs aircraft for Boeing molested her randomly in an alley way? Near zilch. How about the coach with whom you left her for three weeks completely unmonitored? What about the team doctor who gives her upper thigh massages? There’s a scale here. Maybe you don’t fear for your 17-year old wrestling son going on a canoe trip with Denny Hastert. Your kid’s 5’11, 175 and knows seven different choke holds. Conversely, your 12-year old gymnastics daughter is rather helpless in groups of grown men with whom you have entrusted her. Similarly if you put her on the set of True Lies with a set “guardian” who’d rather not ruffle the feathers of movie stars and producers with whom she works. She gets raped. Motive has met opportunity. You openly and unabashedly provided the latter.
In the case of Larry Nassar, as with Sandusky similar before him, the University for which he was working clearly holds some level of blame in burying their head in the sand over reports, rumors, and allegations. Nassar was named by multiple female athletes at the school and little to nothing was done to stop him there, or prevent him from working his side gig with USA gymnastics. An aura of coach or doctor or volunteer benevolence is key to the long term success of these monsters. Larry Nassar was a beloved figure. As was Sandusky. By God, the man ran a charity program for young boys to learn football. What could be more saintly?
But the parents hold the main for shame supporting role in this sadistic drama. There is simply no good reason to leave your defenseless child in the hands of adults in vocations specifically where they have chosen to be around chosen. Tenfold if those hands belong to a man. A hundred fold if you’ve pushed your child to see these men as the gatekeepers to their own and their parent’s happiness. That is not pressure you put on a child. How badly do you want to see them on DisneyTV or in the junior Olympics or winning soccer games out of state at twelve? None of these grandiose childhood accomplishments will serve them in life and more so than playing in a small venue, with parental supervision, and tons less pressure. Conversely, being orally and manually raped as a kid by their team doctor will certainly destroy most of their future peace.
It’s politically incorrect to blame the parents because it’s imagined they too have suffered. They are the parents of the raped children. But who put their kids in that situation? Knowingly, openly. Headlines about predatory child behavior and arrests have existed for several decades now since they became more broadly reported. People magazine runs ten stories a week on sexually abused children, quite cynically for cheap clicks, but not like you can miss the coverage.
It’s baked into parenting that you will mess up with many decisions regarding your children. Those shaming parent types who attack their parents for every misstep deserve their own place in hell. That doesn’t excuse putting your daughters into the 99th percentile of chance for being groped or assaulted. Parents of athletes, models, actors — you have no actual excuse save for serving your own vanity and selfish goals. One of the Nassar gymnastic victims reported injuring herself intentionally to avoid a multi-week gymnastic camp stay where Nassar would be. Parents, please say that it’s what your child wanted so that I may smack you in the face.