Confronting sexual violence committed against children in the family, in the church and in the larger community requires a shift in attitude by leaders and individuals who are in places of authority. A change of attitude from fear and shame to confronting the issue regardless of personal and collective shame that ranges from cover ups to trivializing and normalizing the issue of sexual abuse of minors.
We need to learn to move forward instead of fearing to face the problem sexual violence committed against innocent children and vulnerable people. Recovery from the scandal is not being afraid, but it is being afraid yet taking action anyway for the good of the victim and for society.
Underneath every one of our fears about handling reported sexual abuse cases is simply the fear that we can’t handle the consequences when we acknowledge that a parent, a or a respectable individual in society, is involved in sexual violence against a minor.
We all must be motivated to change our attitudes and respond adequately to issues of sexual violence that we come across. Denying and normalizing sexual violence we may attain comfort or escape for a moment by avoiding the difficulties associated with acknowledging the problem because when it is ignored and avoided the issue becomes more and more difficult and the integrity we try to protect by covering up eventually suffers and the shame increases.
Perhaps the time for change is now. The motivation for many of us to do something comes at a time of crisis or scandal in our life. But it is not necessary to wait for a crisis in order to motivate ourselves to change. One important motivator is to consciously establish a mission to protect and safeguard minors in our society beginning from home with effects reaching outside the home; from the known to the unknown.
What do we see as our purpose in the fight against sexual violence? What kind of church do we want to be what kind of family do we want to have? Yet we find many leaders and people, especially from young churches, never think about meaningful ways to be proactive in dealing with this problem. May be some are still waiting for a crisis to get motivated? If we have no sense of a larger purpose, no goal to work toward, then we find it harder to motivate ourselves to make the effort to push through our defenses and fears in order to safeguard the most vulnerable. It might be helpful to face the shame and be empowered to adequately respond. In the same way the awareness of our goal to safeguard minors can help motivate us to maintain the discipline necessary to address and work towards, protecting, preventing, and promoting a safe environment for our children.
We must begin addressing the issue of sexual violence against children by considering the social, cultural, political and economic setting which tend to normalize or trivialize sexual violence against children.