Children are easy to scare. There are children’s stories specifically designed to scare children into obedience, the bible is full of this fear and control morality. It seems adults scare pretty easily too and never more so than when it comes to children and sex, the bible knows a lot about this too. Childhood sexuality can’t be discussed thoroughly for fear it will encourage paedophiles or that the talk itself will somehow prematurely destroy the innocence of childhood. It’s the same stupid mentality that thinks women’s sexuality needs to be controlled and shamed for fear of encouraging rape or turning women into uncontrollable sluts. This is the reason why both children and women who suffer sexual abuse have to manage not only their recovery from the trauma but they must also endure feelings of guilt and responsibility for simply being sexual beings like everyone else… as if the very presence of their sexuality is a collusion with their abuser.
Refusing to acknowledge and discuss childhood sexuality with each other and with our children is what makes our children vulnerable to those who will but who have abusive agendas. We leave our children dangerously ignorant regarding their own sexual pleasure well into their teens. I masturbated when I was five years old, as did many of my friends. This is common and normal. I was punished for it and told myths about hair growing on my hands and going blind. I have friends who were severely beaten for their natural sexual curiosity.
A few parents are gaining the courage these days to say to their children “it’s okay to masturbate but you must be on your own. It’s a private thing. Don’t do it where anyone can see you.” That’s a giant step in the right direction but it’s still avoiding the fact that children play games based around sexual pleasure with each other. We monitor how children play and whether they’re sharing their toys and aren’t biting, hitting, pinching their friends. However, we’re terrified to talk to them openly about Naughty Doctor games and the like. In my daughter’s group of friend’s one child made a rule that no one was allowed to say no. My daughter informed me so I discussed this with the other parents and we addressed it with our children, yet how much better still would it be to do it before the fact and not after. We should be guiding our children with appropriate education not be playing catch up to their experiences or covering our eyes and our ears to reality and remaining mute. So the issue of consent and body autonomy with regard to sexual interaction and sexual pleasure clearly needs to be addressed with our kids as young as five along with concepts of toy sharing, not cheating and compassion that we are trying to instil in our id driven bundles of joy.
Sex education that is appropriate and relevant to their peer interaction around sexual pleasure games needs to begin at the same age as their curiosity. You may not feel ready for that as a parent but we need to learn how to be. We are failing our children by avoiding and shirking this parental responsibility. If we acknowledge their sexuality honestly yet protectively and we teach them their accurate anatomy, their total right to body autonomy and the absolute importance of consent our children will not be so susceptible to grooming by sexual abusers as children, teens and later as adults themselves. Those who abuse children get into positions of trust in children’s lives they happen to be the teacher, the friend of the family or a relative, the local priest, the neighbour, a friend’s parent who will acknowledge that child’s sexuality and if they get to be the first to do that they have a power dynamic that we gave them by not accepting reality and educating our children appropriately. It is obvious that the sex negativity of religion is the best social environment for paedophiles because it’s almost a given that the children have not only been kept ignorant about sex but they have been made to fear and loath their own sexual body parts, their own pleasure and their own curiosity. Thus they have been taught to keep deathly silent, ignorant and ashamed. This primes them to be the most groomable for sexual predators… and this is why I believe we see so many paedophiles attracted to positions in the clergy.
However, the effects of religious based sex negativity are insidiously prevalent in society at large and simply not espousing sex negative beliefs at home is not enough to prevent your child from picking these cultural messages up that sexual pleasure is bad bad bad and they’re bad bad bad for feeling it. So we need to start pioneering age appropriate sex education. Just as we show our children there’s no monster under their bed, we need to show them there is no monster in their bed or inside of them. We need to shine the light of knowledge, the warmth of acceptance and the security of protection where previously we have left our children scared and alone in the darkness and shadows of ignorance where monsters truly do dwell.