In the 1970’s Child Sexual Abuse was attributed mainly to the Dangerous Stranger. It was a long time before we were made to realize that most Child Sexual Abuse was perpetrated by someone close to to victim and not some ominous dark, dangerous stranger. The process he/she used to gain access to the potential victim became known as Grooming.
The molester will patiently make friends with the intended victim’s parents or primary caregiver. Often the predator will choose a single parent whose vulnerability is obvious. She would be working full time and stressed trying to keep it together. She just needed a little help. And he would be there to demonstrate his trustworthiness.
He always seemed to be there when she needed help. In her eyes he was just great with youngsters, alway playing games with them that appeared to be innocent enough. She could not see that his playing often included tickling, wrestling or some other physical contact. This “playing” would then progress when the perp would offer to “babysit” the youngster. The child has now been conditioned to touching because if it was OK in front of Mom then it must be OK when it was just the two of them.
When the ‘touching’ games become uncomfortable for the child and he/she starts complaining the perp will threaten harm to the parent or puppy or whatever story that will keep the child in submission. But we teach our children to obey adults. She/he is made to feel that it is all their fault, and it is their little Secret. The victim is understandably scared, embarrassed and doesn’t want to get into trouble. This state of affairs can and does go on for sometimes years or for as long as the ’Secret’ is kept.
This is but a sketch of why I switched from making films for adults to focusing on educating children on how to Say No, Get Away, and Tell Someone.
The myth of the Dangerous Stranger was slow to die. It was all put on the parents to know and see if their child was in danger. And for a long while it was thought that we should not ’scare’ our children with the truth. So mostly we taught them to ‘not take candy’ from a stranger. Seldom were children taught that their ‘private parts’ are just that. Private. The idea that we could educate our kids with information about a few ‘Bad people’ was slow to catch on. Rather we should be vigilant in protecting them, thus keeping the children in the dark.
Imagine a first grader who is a ‘victim’, in a class with peers watching a short movie with puppets interacting with a child their age or an animated film. The message is clear: Say No, Get Away, and Tell Someone. Suspension of disbelief is also key here. The advice from the puppets and the animated characters is just as valid as if from a real live Professor. Perhaps even more so. The student now has some tools to work with in case they are feeling isolated with their problem. And, the entire class now has permission to discuss the issue with ease. The interactive discussion after the film is very important as it will truly leave a residual impression
Over the years I have produced seven Child Sexual Abuse films. Only the first, “Incest: The Victim Nobody Believes” was designed for adults. The most recent is “The Professor” which took two years to produce and is a full twenty minutes of animation. We are quite proud of Eliana Gil PhD who, as the voice of The Professor, brings a ‘no nonsense’, stern yet warm and reassuring quality to the character. Because we wanted to have this film be in both English and Spanish we only used only multi-lingual talent.Preview Film CollectionPreview Film Collection
The “Five Steps to Protecting Our Children” developed by Darkness to Light does a great job of defining the ways adults can take responsibility. And, the good people at Darkness to Light have given us permission to share the “Five Steps to Protecting Our Children”.
You may download the document below and share this valuable information with your community.