I want to talk about abuse. It’s an issue I care deeply about, but something that oddly has been seldom discussed on this blog. Recently I read a post that very eloquently described the social rules that allow rape to continue to happen. I had to let things ferment for a few days and really ask myself why that post got under my skin so thoroughly. Then I realized: while the post was talking about women and men, the same social rules cause children to be abused.
It’s horrifying- but let me explain.
Children are taught from birth to respect people in authority. While to a point this is necessary, it’s often abused. Some children are taught, for instance, never to question an elder. Children are taught to wordlessly obey anything that an adult requests of them, “except for strangers.” Wait- what qualifies a stranger? Often the dangerous people don’t look like drunken panhandlers, more often the person a child ought to be afraid of is “Uncle” so-and-so from the local church.
This is a very insidious thing.
And it’s not just physical abuse people need to worry about- it’s emotional and intellectual abuse. I hate it when children are taught not to question. There are some kids who are from a young age stripped of their inquisitive nature. They are told it is wrong to correct a teacher, that questioning their parent’s philosophy is evil, that doubts they have about faith or about who they are were put there by the devil. This sort of brow-beaten indoctrination is just wrong, and too often leads to children who grow into adults who are lost, even if they are where their parents would have wanted them to be.
And I’m not even going to get started on sexual abuse by church elders. Suffice it to say that I’ve heard stories.
We need to teach our children to have boundaries and to enforce them. We need to teach them to draw back if they are uncomfortable. We need to teach them to question if they want to question, to argue if they want to argue, to stand up for themselves even if it’s uncomfortable for us.
We need to teach them strength.
And for the love of God- we need to stand up for ourselves.