I was speaking with someone about the sorry state that there are child abusers within our school systems and within the community at large. During our conversation something popped up that I feel I need to share with my readers, and I hope they will share it with others as well.
Children look at their parents as being their protectors. They love their parents and don't want anything to happen to them. They are also protective in turn. It is a ploy of the abusers among us that they tell the children they abuse that they may not/should not tell their parents what is going on. Counselors who deal with the victims of abuse frequently hear from these children that the monsters who abused them sometimes told them that bad things would happen to the parents if the children told them what was going on. Some tell the children that bad things will happen to them and their parents won't like hearing about it. Some, who are in positions of authority over the children, tell the children that this is a private matter and doesn't concern the parents. In short, they prey on the concerns that children have about their parents.
It would be a good idea to make it a "family rule" that if anyone, ever, tells the children that they shouldn't tell their parents something, the first thing the children should do is tell their parents. Without necessarily going into the specifics of what a person wants hidden, children should be told and taught that parents need to know everything, that secrets are not something that children and parents should have. Anyone who tells them not to tell their parents something is not their friend. And parents need to stress to their children that there is nothing that a child could tell them that would cause them to cease loving that child.
Yeah sure, there might be a surprise birthday party that isn't going to be a surprise. Big whoops. It's far more important that children know that "Don't tell your parents" actually means the opposite--run and tell your parents.
A good idea for very young kids. But kids as they get older get really into the idea of privacy, that they are entitled to have things their parents don't have any business knowing. With these older kids you have to tell them specifically what kinds of actions they need to tell you about and why. And then a parent worries that they are explaining things that the kids may be a little too young to be told about in detail.
I whole heartedly agree!
(Unfortunately, it seems that even this isn't enough lately...)
This is only the first step. The second step is that the parents (i) tell the child they did the right thing and they are proud of them -- (no "shhhh don't tell the neighbors) and (ii) go to the authorities.
children know their parents don't want to hear this, without anyone necessarily telling them not to tell...but it's a good start
I think, very strongly that children should also be told that "threatening their parents" (ie saying that if you tell them something bad will happen to them) is actionable in court, and that they can believe that their parents will do something about it, and that anyone who threatens anyone else is bad, evil, and horrible, and only out to get the child, and even the nice things he does for you are only to sucker you in so that he can hurt mommy and daddy or the kid.
When my child was small she had a Rebbe who told the students, "Don't tell your parents I said that having a TV is a terrible thing & a big waste of time." Of course,she told me as soon as she arrived home that day. Although I had a TV, I understood his opinion of TV and that he didn't want all the parents calling him to argue.
However, when we had parent-teacher conferences I told him that teaching children not to tell their parents things that go on in school is dangerous for the children. A Rebbe is a powerful authority figure and if he tells children "not to tell" they will be afraid to tell, even when it is something as serious as abuse. He was a really fine man, but told me he never thought of those consequences and would be sure to refrain from this again.
Another concept along these lines is that when teachers teach about loshon harah, they should be careful to explain that it is NOT applicable to your parents and that there is nothing that you cannot tell them. MY son kindergarten teacher really stressed how bad lashon harah is, but he heard 'its bad for me to tell my parents when someone was doing something wrong'
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