By Nancy Virden (c)2021
Children deserve respect.
Children deserve respect for who they are at each developmental stage. As adults our responsibility is to protect children from what they are not developmentally ready for mentally, emotionally, or physically.
Children need to know they are secure from harm and loved for exactly who they are and not what they can do for others. Covert sexual abuse is not respectful of a child as a human being.
Covert sexual abuse is the sexualizing of children through a variety of means outside of actual molestation. Physical touch and rape are overt. Covert sexual abuse, by removing natural and developmental boundaries, may be more subtle but can deeply and negatively affect a child’s psyche and self-image.
This type of abuse may include dressing a child to look sexy, or discussing bodies in a way that sends the wrong message – that pleasing others is more important than respecting oneself. Exposing the child to sex and sexuality via television, movies, the internet, and so on is covert sexual abuse. One father invited his daughter to watch pornography with him. A mother described to her child her disatisfying sex life with the child’s dad. Yet another father acted as if his daughter was his girlfriend in public places. The list goes on. From the more subtle to the obviously horrific, covert sexual abuse is not limited to only these things.
I saw a father teaching his son, who couldn’t have been more than 9 years old, how to check out a full-grown woman’s body and decide what is good and not so good. This boy learned a sorry lesson in devaluing women. Girls too are taught that their worth depends on sex “appeal.”
How is this supposed to help them through life? What is often missed when adults rationalize covert sexual abuse is that the child internalizes these value systems. They are stunted in the areas of trust, human sanctity, relationships, and self-esteem. Covert sexual abuse in its many forms is always damaging. Sometimes it is traumatic. Adults can fail miserably to teach children the sacrifices of true love.
Jesus set the tone for respect of children when he said we adults must become more like them to enter the kingdom of heaven. It is only when we take on the innocence of children, and the trusting hearts of children that we can experience a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father whose love is never a violation.
Today’s Helpful Word
[Jesus] called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.“
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.
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