It was 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. John and I were working at our computers in an otherwise empty room. The curtains were wide open, allowing the living room lights to penetrate freely into the darkness outside.
John opened the door and I heard, from the vantage point of the living room a few yards away, a young girl’s voice. “C-c-can I use yo-you-your phone?” she stammered.
John invited her in and handed the teen our phone. With trembling hands she pushed the buttons and, a few seconds later, I heard her talking to her mother. “Can you come pick me up?” she asked. “I ran out of gas and can’t make it home.”
“You just need gas?” John asked. “I’ve got some out in the barn. There’s no need for your mother to come.”
After John left for the barn I talked with the girl – as she trembled visibly.
“I was so scared,” she said. “I ran out of gas right in front of your house, but then I stood outside your door for thirty minutes trying to work up the courage to knock on the door.”
I was astounded. I didn’t think John and I looked THAT scary. I mean, the curtains were wide open and she could clearly see in. It was just the two of us quietly working on our computers. What was so scary about that?
What could possibly have happened in that child’s life to make her fear asking for help from a couple of perfectly kind strangers?
But then I read things like this and I understand why kids learn to fear others. The article was originally written by Jenna Myers Karvunidis’ for her blog on ChicagoNow, but has since been pulled. Several other sites reprinted it before it was pulled.
The story goes that Jenna found a lovely little progressive preschool for her toddler. It was a perfect place and very tolerant of different races and beliefs. “This is a place where dads are made to feel welcome, where they are seen as equal and involved parents. This is a place where two-dad families are ushered in with open arms. Rad. I love the love.”
But then she discovered that daddies were helping her two-year-old daughter in the toilet. “For two-year-olds, that means a heavy hand in the pulling up and down of undies and the occasional wipe. That could be any assisting parent, like, say, a dad. Gulp.”
Horror! A strange male was helping pull down her daughter’s panties! What else might that man be doing in the privacy of the classroom bathroom? Fondling her? Sexually abusing her? “While I’m at home kicking it up over laundry, my daughter is a mile away MAYBE having some dude I’ve never met cleaning her butt.”
Surely that behavior had to stop!
The mother approached the school and informed them, in no uncertain terms, that she expected their irresponsible behavior to stop immediately. Henceforth only females would be allowed to help her daughter in the potty. If the school didn’t agree to her terms, she would pull the child.
In the end, the mother reported, she had succeeded. It was a proud moment for her as she was able to change the school’s policy and make the world safer for kids. Fathers would no longer assist little girls. “I’m so excited! I actually feel like I made a little difference in the world. High fives for mama bears, right?”
I was appalled.
What that mother had done was teach her daughter to fear men. She stated in her article that because “we don’t live in a world where child-molesting is equal-opportunity; 99% of sexual predators are men,” she needed to do what she could to keep men away from her daughter.
I think she’s barking up the wrong tree.
The statistic she needs to pay attention to is not how many child molesters are men, but how many men are child molesters.
It may be true that all squares are four-sided figures, but it is most definitely not true that all four-sided figures are squares. When dealing with statistics, you have to consider them all.
A quick internet search showed me that in 1997, 1.7 children per thousand were sexually molested. 1.7! Don’t get me wrong – I think that number is entirely too high, but it’s still a pretty low number. If you dig a bit farther into the stats, you’ll see that the vast majority of sexual abuse cases happen within the family. In other words, the chance that the friendly daddy who happens to be volunteering in your child’s preschool will abuse your daughter is pretty darn low.
What really upsets me about this article is that there are many parents who agree with Jenna. There are parents out there who feel exactly like she does – that men are to be feared. We need to do whatever we can to keep men away from our children! Be scared children, be scared!
It’s a sad commentary on society when people feel they need to fear 50% of the people around them. And it’s sad when men feel limited because of that irrational fear.
John Higham, author of 360 Degrees Longitude told me, “It irritates me to no end that just because I’m an “X” and a “Y” that makes me guilty of being a perv. Unfortunately, it is the default setting in our society.”
“I considered becoming a teacher which I personally think I would be very good at,” said Colin Burns, who is traveling around the world with his family. “Ladies like Jenna are the exact reason I won’t. I have never done anything inappropriate and never will but already doubt is cast over me due to my gender. It is disappointing they can’t differentiate that most males are great and loving fathers.”
Talon Windwalker, a former hospice chaplain and single father traveling the world with his adopted son, added, “Any man speaking to a child is automatically suspected of being a pervert. It has gotten to the point that in the States I am afraid of offering any help to a child who I see needs it unless I am with a woman or someone else who I believe will be believed if the police are called.”
I am thrilled that my sons have had the chance to see the good side of humanity – the side not portrayed on the nightly news. They’ve seen, first hand, that people are good, kind, and generous and will go out of their way to help others in need.
One day we were walking in the market in Ecuador when Davy turned to me and asked, “Mom, why are people so afraid? So many people are afraid of others and think they’ll be robbed, hurt, or killed, but all I see are good, kind people.”
Why indeed? How is it that our American culture has degenerated to the point where women won’t let men help their children? How have we gotten to the point where men fear doing simple, everyday things like smile at a child in a supermarket?
“The other day a little girl said hi to me, so I said hi back.” Christopher Nalty told me. “Problem is, I could tell her mom had already dialed 9-1 and was ready to hit that last 1 if I even smiled crooked. As the father of three boys, I get that parents are protective, but have we gone so far off the deep end that we are no longer allowed to acknowledge each other?”