By JAMES WILKINSON
I had a conversation with a colleague recently about our daughters when the topic of sleepovers came up. While this is still a little way off for me (she is only three) it caused me to wonder what I will do when the time comes.
“I never let my girls have sleepovers,” he said. They are ten and eight years old. “I won’t even let them stay at their grandparents overnight.”
“Why not?” I asked
“Well you never know who might drop in on them when they are there and you can’t even really trust your relatives or close friends. They are not going to tell you that they are child molesters are they?”
Is this guy overprotective or is this what we have to do to ensure the safety of our kids? Are there more child predators around or do we just hear about it more in the current social climate with the technology available?
The thing that I find the most difficult to get my head around is that the perpetrator is much more likely to be the trusted family friend or relative rather than some unknown, creepy dude from down the street.
Don’t get me wrong – “stranger danger” is very real however statistics show an overwhelming amount of sexual abuse is inflicted by somebody who is known and trusted by the family.
We go to great lengths to educate and protect our children from “strangers” but nothing is ever said about the much more real danger of “family friends” and “friends of friends”.
When I asked some other friends about this the general consensus was that it was OK for your kids to sleep over their friends houses if you have met the friend’s parents and thought that they were alright. Fair enough I suppose but how would you ever know?
Even if you knew the family your child was staying with really well would you know if any kind of abuse was occurring? These things are not as obvious as you might imagine and people are always surprised when the stories of abuse eventually surface as they almost always do.