We have all read about this grandfather who is accused of sexually assaulting his granddaughter and apparently eventually causing her demise (according to the media).
We have all read/listened in shock with some people uttering what to them should be the rightful punishment for one who instead of nurturing and protecting a young innocent individual sought to harm her.
As usual, I had my chat with my neighbour who in her pragmatic manner was able to shed more light on the matter. She said that many years ago there was an old man in her neighbourhood who would always find time to play with them (as children). She said at first it was fun to have an adult there but she soon realised that he was always watching them as they bathe or dress and when she started to grow breasts she felt that she needed privacy so she would dress at home and he seemed to be annoyed when she did this.
Then one day she felt him grope her breast, when this occurred she reported it to her grandmother who promptly stopped her from playing with him and the other kids in the neighbourhood. She never told anyone else and neither did her grandmother but behaviour like this, has been happening in our midst for many years.
Some were aware it was wrong and others felt that it was natural since they themselves were exposed to this treatment. The main problem here is the tendency to “hide up” when we know something is wrong. That little girl cannot be the only victim neither is the old man the only perpetrator. I am sure if one took the time to ask school children about dirty old men in our midst they will show us several if we choose to see them.
You see, we are all guilty of looking the other way and placing blame on the female no matter how mature. For some reason, there is a belief that females somehow are responsible for causing a man to act in a demeaning manner towards them. It appears as if the man cannot think or cope with his sexuality and somehow everyone else is responsible.
Yet, we expect them to step up to the plate and be responsible heads of households/organisations/governments etc and be good fathers and role models. How can this be when we have such low expectations of them in the first place. The article this week is about paedophilia.
Throughout the Caribbean because of our historical beginnings we are a people that have survived one of the worse forms of abuse known to man, and that is slavery. However, we have survived and have emerged into societies that are almost on the same level with ones that did not experience such degradation.
Through good leaderships we have leant to educate our people and have created laws that seek to prevent a break down in the social order.
Unfortunately, mankind has many psychological and social problems that threaten daily and paedophilia is one such problem. According to the Child Molestation and Prevention Institute, paedophilia is a disorder that affects an individual around sixteen years or older. This individual would have reoccurring sexual feelings directed towards children as young as six years younger than him/her.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a paedophile is a person who is sexually aroused by, has intense, recurring sexual feelings and fantasies with a pubescent child. Very often an individual with this disorder demonstrates symptoms from as early as age13 which at times is ignored or overlooked by adults.
There are some who argue that both women and men are jointly guilty of this disorder but statistics have revealed that although females may be involved, the ratio is 16,000 males to 600 females. So the question is: How do we recognise this disorder?
When researchers questioned known individuals with this disorder they recounted that these uncontrollable sexual fantasies towards six year olds began during puberty (age 13). Very often the target of their desire could be a step sister or some close friend or relative living in the household or next door.
Now according to research, the sexual fantasy must last for at least a period of six months or more which means that someone who has a fleeting fantasy about a child does not have the disorder.
The next question is what can be done to help persons with this disorder. Research has revealed that there are sex-specific therapists who specialise in the treatment of individuals with this sexual disorder. These therapists will first evaluate the individual to determine the seriousness of the condition and during therapy they can teach the client how to redirect their sexual interest towards more age appropriate partners.
What is of upmost importance here is early detection. If a parent, neighbour, relative or friend recognises that a child is showing undue interest or is sexually attracted to a young child they can solicit the assistance of a therapist or the Child care Board who are charged with keeping such matters confidential.
This treatment can be obtained before the person actually acts on their feelings. So instead of waiting or pretending that it is not happening, help can be obtained for the individual.
One must not fear that it may be a false alarm because in most cases the therapist will determine if the behaviour is normal childhood behaviour or if it is an inappropriate sexual act. If adults are proactive and seek assistance at an early age it will protect many children from experiencing the horrors of child sexual abuse.
The bottom line is, we must stop hiding wrong doings and proactively seek help for our loved ones. In addition, our laws, rules and regulations must support one high standard for all and not have one set of rules for “Mr. A” and another set for “Mr. B”.
Parents and guardians must also utilise the Internet where several academic sites are readily available with information on how to address many issues. Moreover, there are several government-run institutions that are mandated to handle such issues and if a parent, teacher or neighbour would bring information to their attention, I am sure several children will be spared.
The time has come for us to be our brother’s keeper — instead of “talking name and placing blame”. Until next time… * Daren Greaves is a Psychology and Management Consultant