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Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about the scandal that's been swirling around Josh Duggar of the popular TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting". If you're not up to speed you can read more about it here, but basically Josh, the eldest son of the conservative Christian Duggar family, has now confessed that the molestation allegations that had been brought against him are in fact true.
Now here's the thing ... I realize that you've most likely already had your social media feeds flooded with links to articles about this controversy, so I'm not here to add fuel to the fire. Things like this happen and it's terrible, but what's even more terrible is focusing all of our attention on the people behind the crimes instead of on the victims of these crimes. Sadly, sexual abuse of children happens all to often. According to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), 44% of all victims are under the age of 18 and approximately 4 out of 5 assaults are committed by someone who is known to the victim. While the statistics aren't new to me, they're still baffling.
The fact is, sexual abuse of children is something that is happening and that we rarely stop to consider, and this whole Duggar situation has served as a reminder to me about its prevalence and as a catalyst to start talking about it with my three-year-old daughter. As much as I would like to believe that I can protect her from all situations, the fact is I may not be able to and I want her to be prepared for what to do should a situation arise. Sexual abuse can cause so much long-term damage and as parents it is up to us to be proactive in teaching our children about potential dangers.
My heart hurts for the molestation victims in the Duggar case, but if nothing else we as a society can take a moment to stop and learn from it. Let's raise awareness and educate our kids. Know the signs of sexual abuse and learn about ways you can help protect your children from it. It's never too early to start and there are plenty of age appropriate books for children as young as two and three years old. Start laying the ground work and empower your little ones to take ownership of their bodies by teaching them about what appropriate touch looks like.