On the Guatemalan Adoption e-group I belong to there is currently a big discussion going on because one of the member's 7 year old daughter was sexually abused by a neighbour's 13 year old son. It's a horrible story. The lady concerned is being very cautious about how she proceeds and while she wants help for her daughter and her family she also seems to want to somewhat protect the boy, or at least she isn't keen to rush off to the police.
The responses to this have been very harsh. People are insisting that she go to the police, someone even wrote "once a pedophile always a pedophile". Whoa. I am almost as horrified at the reactions as the offence. (Let me clarify by saying there hasn't been actual intercourse but what the poor mother is calling "penetration with toys".)
Now I'm not saying it isn't an awful situation but I am thinking:
a) This could be my son.
b) This could be my daughter.
c) How many of us were involved in some sort of sex-type play as children which our parents never found out about and which was little more than silly experimentation which certainly hasn't left us scarred for life? I certainly was. Would our parents have even considered calling the police should some of it been discovered?
d) Is our society's paranoia and hypersensitivity over sexuality and pedophilia and the conflicting messages of over-sexualisation causing us to go nuts where children and genitals are concerned?
e) Is a 13 year old boy who coerces a 7 year old girl into sexualised play necessarily a sexual predator or a pedophile or a criminal? As a society do we seal his fate by casting judgement on him as a monster? How would my feelings sway if he was my son or she was my daughter?
These are tough emotive questions but judging by many of the responses I have read as a society we are rabidly keen to crucify a young boy who may be a monster or may just be a stupid, naughty boy. I don't pray but I do fervently hope that my own children are never unlucky enough to be "victims" or stupid and unlucky enough to be "monsters".