HEATHER and Scott are a vivacious, happy couple, the parents of a bright, healthy three-year-old boy. * They take good care of their son. In today’s world, that is no easy job. It involves a wide array of worries and responsibilities. There are so many things that children need to be taught! Heather and Scott feel strongly about one responsibility in particular: They want to protect their child from the dangers of sexual abuse. Why?
“My father was a cold, angry drunk,” Heather says. “He beat me terribly, and he molested me and my sisters.” * It is widely agreed that such abuse can inflict deep emotional scars. No wonder Heather is determined to protect her son! Scott feels the same about protecting him.
Many parents are concerned about child abuse. Perhaps you are as well. Unlike Scott and Heather, you may not have come face-to-face with abuse and its effects, but you have no doubt heard shocking reports about the prevalence of this disgusting practice. Around the world good parents are horrified to learn what is happening to children in their area.
Not surprisingly, one researcher in the field of sexual abuse called the rates of child abuse “one of the most discouraging discoveries of our era.” That is certainly sad news, but are such developments surprising? Not to students of the Bible. God’s Word explains that we are living in a troubled period of time called “the last days,” a time marked by a prevalence of “fierce” behavior, when people would be “lovers of themselves” and would have “no natural affection.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
Sexual abuse is a daunting issue. Indeed, some parents feel overwhelmed when they contemplate the sheer wickedness of the people who seek out children to abuse them sexually. However, is this problem too much for parents to handle? Or are there some practical steps that parents can take to keep their children safe? The following articles will address these questions.
^ par. 2 Names in this series of articles have been changed.
^ par. 3 Sexual abuse of a child occurs when an adult uses a child to gratify his or her own sexual desires. It often involves what the Bible calls fornication, or por·neiʹa, which could include fondling of genitalia, sexual intercourse, and oral or anal sex. Some abusive acts—such as the fondling of breasts, explicitly immoral proposals, showing pornography to a child, voyeurism, and indecent exposure—may amount to what the Bible condemns as “loose conduct” or “uncleanness . . . with greediness.”—Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:19.