My husband loves kids, particularly those in the 2-5 year old age range, because let’s face it, it’s a very sweet spot for humans. Of course, they’re much cuter if they are not yours, particularly when they get tired and hungry.
But not everybody feels the same way. Recently we went to a function where not only would no one admit to liking kids but some of them became quite ridiculous when my husband acknowledged that he did. Just mentioning the looks of a small child spurred some ridiculous commentary from the assembled guests. It’s like people are afraid to like children in case they are labelled a pervert or worse a paedophile.
Why is it no longer socially acceptable to like kids just because they are, well kids? This so called “paedophile paranoia” means that my husband feels like he can’t talk to the little boy at the beach about his lost toy truck or play peek-a-boo with a little girl at the supermarket checkout because it is suspected by some that his intentions aren’t pure – that he can’t possibly want to talk to the children because he just likes kids. I, on the other hand, can talk to any child, at any time and people just believe that I am maternal – good with children.
It is disconcerting that we’ve allowed ourselves to become gripped by the fear that there are paedophiles patrolling our parks.
The paranoia we feel is actually hugely disproportionate to the actual danger our kids face. Surely we shouldn’t shut down normal emotional responses or stop smiling at kids just because we’ve read a horrific story in yesterday’s newspaper.
Sexual abuse statistics, especially where there are children involved are highly unreliable because of the number of cases that go unreported. In its February 2011 publication, the Australian Institute of Family Studies reported that there were 5,880 cases of substantiated child sexual abuse in Australia 2009/10. Although this is genuinely shocking and disgusting it is worth putting into context.