Society’s predators

Haugesund
Haugesund in the 70’s wasn’t a bad place to grow up, but it might be wise to be more alert today.

There wasn’t much parents had to worry about when I grew up in a small Norwegian town in the 1970’s. I lived in a low rise just outside a large park and most of the children were runing wild in the forest and hills all day. Personally I barely had time to come home for dinner. There were too many football matches that needed to be played, trouts and tadpoles that needed to be caught, trees that needed to be climbed, cowboys and indians that needed a war etc.

I got a warning some years later telling me that maybe the world wasn’t that safe after all. I spent a lot of time alone, and one time I was riding my bicycle through another popular park in my hometown (Haraldsvang), an older man tried to stop me. This was probably on a Sunday because I remember there were a lot of people walking in the park that day. The man asked me if I wanted to come with him into the forest to have a chat. I was about 14 years old then. I hardly think he wanted to isolate a lonely child so that he could have an interesting conversation. I believe that tells you what kind of intentions he had.

I am glad I had the sense to keep moving. I was probably sceptical to the fact that this chat had to take place in the forest, away from people. He couldn’t do anything in public as long as I refused to come willingly. I don’t know if the world has ever been safe enough for you to let your children run anywhere alone. It might have been in small town Norway 30 years ago, but not today. There have always been pedophiles or sexual predators. Much like predators in nature they single out a weak prey which they isolate and trap.

Many children walk alone to their after school activities. I have a 10 year old myself that understandably wants to do what her friends do. She is disappointed when I won’t let her go alone to the grocery store about a mile from our house, to the scout meeting or some other activity. I had started thinking that maybe I had been too strict and that I should start letting her do more on her own. I witnessed something last week that had me seriously concerned, however.

I walked with my daughter to one of her activities, and I let her play on a fenced playground outside a church as we were early. There were several other children there, some of them toghether with parents and some alone. A man walking a poodle, the smallest one I’ve ever seen (about the size of a kitten), came inside this fenced area and sat down. It didn’t appear that he had any business there. He clearly didnt know anyone and looked like he didn’t belong there. The other children started leaving as the meeting was about to start.

Then my daughter discovered the dog and she walked over to where this man was sitting. He tried talking to her, but she ignored him. She was only interested in the dog. She is usually a little afraid of them, but this was tiny, and perfect to attract children. Then I told her it was time to go inside and she was reluctant to leave. If I had not walked with her and made sure the scout leader welcomed her, she would have left. She wanted to turn around and I am sure she was still thinking about the dog.

This gave me an uncomfortable association to the man in Haraldsvang many years ago. This is not pleasant to think about, and I might make the mistake of suspecting people that are innocent, but this is a tragic fact of life. It’s not my job to hope for the best, so I am going to continue being alert and sceptical.

There are abusers everywhere in society. They are like predators that take advantage of the situation if they can isolate a child. I don’t want families to live in fear, but I encourage parents to be more careful and to talk to their children about the dangers. Many children walk alone to their afternoon activities, and some are dropped off at the parking lot. What I am suggesting is far from being a desirable situation, but I think it’s necessary.

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17 thoughts on “Society’s predators

  1. I don’t want families to live in fear, but I encourage parents to be more careful and to talk to their children about the dangers.

    Good for you, John!

    The world isn’t safe. And I tend to think it never has been since the initial “fall” of humanity.
    But we do often deceive ourselves about this when we believe that our own society is more “civilized” than others.

    Due to the fact that the matter of sexual predation is an uncomfortable subject, and has not received a lot of attention until fairly recently, it would probably be quite shocking to discover how many children have been molested in some way before they reach adulthood.

    Our family lives in a very rural area, but also near the Canadian-US border, and is considered to be an international corridor. So, while the community itself is relatively small, we also get a lot of through traffic, especially in the summer, when people like to vacation. This allows for an increase in exposure to strangers of all varieties.

    It’s possible to log on to certain websites and be able to identify where state-registered sex offenders have taken up residence in our locale. It’s both disturbing and helpful as we were able to visibly show our skeptical 16 year old daughter why we don’t encourage her to run around town by herself. She’s certainly old enough to be able to do this, and many very young children are allowed to wander around town by themselves. But we don’t believe it is the wisest choice when she could easily be accompanied by a sibling or friend or parent who will help deter unwanted advances.

    Sadly, the potential for a child to be abused isn’t limited to his or her interaction with complete strangers. Often, it is a family member or trusted friend who is a perpetrator. Or even another, more assertive individual within the kid’s own circle of peers.

    While it’s not possible to anticipate every possible scenario, it is never a bad thing to exercise caution and try to help a child to accept that the potential for being hurt can increase exponentially when (s)he is isolated in some way.

    It only takes one such encounter to completely shatter a child’s ability trust anyone or view themselves as being in any way valuable. Why risk that through parental carelessness?

    My opinion is that those who have experienced the danger themselves are more likely to see the potential for harm. So, in a way, it is good that you were able to discover the truth about the lurking evil while you were young without sustaining any permanent scars from having been victimized yourself.
    It has helped you to be more aware of your daughter’s need for protection, even if she does not fully appreciate it…and even if other parents might consider you to be “too protective”.

    Perhaps you’ve recognized that this particular topic is one I feel rather strongly about. But I don’t think this comment is longer than your original post… :/

  2. Discussing pedophiles is taboo. This world by in large is blatantly corrupt about the abuse-neglect (rape-abandonment) of children:

    – afghanistan “dancing boys”
    – thailand “lady boys”
    – the UK “rife with buggery”
    – the US “sexing up children,” teen sex themes in vids & music
    – northern europe (… best let let John address that)
    – japan, anime (even disney cartoons)
    – pedophiles (priests, teachers, and coaches) largely excused
    – etc. etc. etc.

    I believe that most sexual sin is about lusting over youthful appearances. Moreover, there’s an push to include pedophilia as a civil right in the US.

    I suspect that most abortions come from teens — or emotionally immature women — raped and abandoned by pedophiles (with so called liberal, progressive, or libertarian sex agendas — basically still in the closet).

    And it’s never been safe, ever, in any generation. Most violence — including sexual — occurs within families.

    It’s part of the jadedness and shame of sin that such wickedness is covered up instead of being exposed. Legalized or decriminalized intoxicants certainly make it worse.

    So, the greater majority of the damned are headed to hell precisely because of victimizing younger generations much the same as they were victimized. And when parents kill their unborn (though all have also been fetuses) and call it a right – there’s no worse line to cross. They can be used by the enemy angels to do almost any wickedness.

    (I believe they become largely unconscious… or “compartmentally conscioused…” puppets remote controlled by multiple hateful demons.)

    Apart from the forgiveness & rescue of Christ — there is no antidote for such contagion other that being cast into (quarantined in) the Lake of Fire, after the resurrections. Their iniquity ends soon enough.

    1. There’s a lot of evil and creepy shit in the world. That’s for sure. There’s a Norwegian blogger, promoted by the biggest secular humanist organization in Norway. He debunks everyone sceptical to Monsanto, vaccines and that shit. He has also written many articles where he has used pro-pedophile sources to make it sound less serious.

      The really crazy thing is that when many parents, especially single mothers, just want to protect their children the Child Welfare Service frequently accuse them of having mental disorders and of harming their own children. I have referred to it as statesponsored childtrafficking on my blog. The world is getting increasingly evil.

    2. Nomemoleste,

      When I think of sexual predators of children, I think of what Jesus said about “whosoever should offend one of these little ones, it is better that a millstone be hung about his neck and cast into the sea.”

      Sometimes though, it seems like the crimes against children are so rampant, that is surprising the whole world is not “cast into the sea.”

    3. @ Jay

      I was just thinking of the millstone passage earlier this week. Then Craig was watching something last night which brought it up. And now you.

      What is interesting to me is that Jesus doesn’t limit this fierce protectiveness to just those who are literally children…but to all who have placed faith in Him.

      After His resurrection, He even addressed His disciples in this way.. “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” John 21:5 (ESV)

      It is a deadly serious matter to cause either physical or spiritual harm to any “child” of God.

    4. From Christ’s perspective… at 2015+ years old… every passing generation just has kids. From His higher dimensional transcendent perspective as Son of God — even Enoch and Elijah are just kids (I believe they’ve never experienced physical death, yet).

    5. Interesting connection. To your knowledge, are those the only passages that reference “cast into the sea?”

    6. Jay,
      There are other “casting” references, Ezekiel 26:12 makes a similar reference with regard to the punishment of Tyre. Interestingly, Babylon was the instrument He used.
      Jonah 1:12-15 speaks of Jonah being cast into the sea in order to calm a storm. Revelation 8:8 involves an image of a “burning mountain” being thrown into the sea.

      The metaphor symbolically represents divine judgment, I believe.

      But the direct correlation with regard to a millstone being cast seems to only be in the two instances nomemoleste connected.

      I’d agree that they are significant. Craig told me that the guy who was teaching on the video series he’s been watching said that historically, drowning by millstone was a way of putting down a rebellion by making an example of its leader. The millstone was a community necessity as most citizens had no way of affording their own private setup. So basically, both the inspiration behind the rebellion and the ability to support an ongoing community uprising were eliminated in one act.

    7. There’s a handful of such instances, which may also have a common theme. “The horse and his rider” (pharaoh & army, Exo. 15) are cast into the sea. The legion of demons is cast out of the Gadarean and into the sea along with the swine. Those with faith to move mountains may cast them likewise. And the damned are cast into the lake (of fire). I reckon we can excuse Jonah from getting into hot water (cast overboard), Simon bar Jonah (Peter) considered re: walking on water with Christ.

    8. I don’t know how I didn’t remember any of those other examples myself! I never thought about the whole “casting” thing before. What an interesting pattern. Yes, it does seem to be related to “divine judgment.”

      But with regards to what Craig heard about the millstone, it really does make you wonder why Jesus chose “millstone.” Why not just “cast into the sea?”

      Of course, I don’t really expect anyone to be able to answer that question! 🙂 And I apologize for any digression here. I just can think of certain crimes against children without thinking of that passage.

    9. Jay,

      it really does make you wonder why Jesus chose “millstone.” Why not just “cast into the sea?”

      I’m going to answer, anyway 😉

      I doubt any of us can claim to know for sure the reason Jesus did this, but His pattern of teaching frequently focused on a cultural practice that people could recognize…and then align it with a spiritual truth so listeners could better grasp His meaning.

      The videos Craig’s been watching are of various teaching tours through Israel and Middle Eastern areas. The guide is Ray Vanderlaan.
      http://www.faithlessons.net/

      I believe Matthew 17:24 indicates that Jesus was at Capernaum (on the edge of the Sea of Galilee) when He made the declaration about the millstone. There was definitely a familiar picture He was painting for His audience.

  3. As fathers we are our children’s protectors. We protect their innocence. Sometimes they won’t understand. That’s a good thing. It’s dark out there, they will find out soon enough. Hopefully by then we have taught them to be their own protectors and to follow their Heavenly Father’s protection when they don’t understand. Glad you were there.

  4. John,

    Bravo for addressing this topic! Your story about the creepy man you encountered as a teen, as well as the man you described with the dog reminds me strongly of a similar such man I encountered at age 10 in a park with a teenaged friend.

    Like the community Heather described, we lived in a small town on a major interstate, and all sorts of “strange people” came through town. My mother had absolutely terrified me with abduction stories, since at the time there had been many abductions of young girls in large cities in the area. Later, bodies would turn up in isolated areas. So, my mother had warned me.

    I had gone to the park with a 16 year girl who often “babysat” me and my brother. We were only blocks from her parents’ home. When we arrived at the park to use a new, self propelled merry-go-round, I noticed a man nearby sitting under a small tree on a blanket, with a boom box and a small ice chest beside him, He was alone. Something about him struck me as “odd.” It was unusual to see adult males at the park alone. Usually they were with their families, or at least a female companion. But this man was alone, and something seemed ‘off’ about him to me.

    I kept an eye on him as we enjoyed the new merry-go-round that could reach incredible speeds. He approached us and asked us if we wanted him to “push us.” I thought the question was odd, since the merry-go-round was self-propelled and we were moving at a very high speed. I told him ‘No.” But my friend said yes, and slowed the ride down so he could “push” us.

    To my dismay, he struck up a conversation with my friend. He told her that he was a photographer and agent from Hollywood and he was looking for young women who wanted to go into the modeling business. He told my friend how pretty she was and how she would make a great model. I guess so I wouldn’t feel left out, he dished out the same crap to me, too. I didn’t believe a word he was saying, as I knew I was an unlikely “hot model” at 10 years old in my gawky glasses ( I didn’t know then about child porn), but could not figure out how to alert my friend that this man was creepy without saying something right in front of him. I wanted to leave, but I didn’t want to leave my friend with this creep.

    But my fear peaked when he actually asked her, “What would your dad do if I touched you?” Oddly, she didn’t seemed bothered by the question, just giggled, and said, “Oh, he would probably kill you.” As the nonsensical conversation continued, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to get away from him. I got off the merry-go-round, and without saying a word slipped behind a giant, concrete tunnel that children climbed on. I stood there for a few moments, and then suddenly my friend came and grabbed me, telling me that I had scared her by leaving and said, “Let’s go now.” As we took off, to our horror, the creepy man began to chase us. Fortunately, he was rather overweight and out of shape, and we ran like the hounds of hell were after us. I remember us both leaping a short, chain-link fence, while he had to detour to find the gate, as he could not climb over as easily. We ran without stopping back to her parents’ home. Her older brothers and our fathers went back to the park to look for the man, but he was long gone.

    I was thankful that my mother had told me all the abduction stories and alerted me to look out for people who “did not seem right,” and that she had told me that if something “felt wrong” to me, to listen to that feeling. However, I have been puzzled ever since about my friend’s reaction. At the time, I felt like that since she was older, she should have picked up sooner than me that something was wrong. Perhaps her mother did not warn her as strongly as mine did, or perhaps I was just immune to the man’s flattery and saw through his “BS” because I knew I was too young to be a “model in Hollywood.” My friend was older, and so I guess his approach worked shockingly well with a teenage girl. At 10, the puppy might have worked a bit better with me, particularly if the puppy was in distress. Or maybe I just had low self-esteem ( I believed myself a homely child) and couldn’t believe that anyone thought I would be a good model. I remember while it was happening thinking that the man wanted to do “bad things” to my friend, while I figured he would just kill me and dump in some remote place. This experience was one of the more terrifying ones of my childhood.

    So John, though your daughter doesn’t appreciate your caution and protectiveness now, someday she will. She is fortunate to have vigilant parents.

    Heather,

    It is good that you do not allow your teenage daughter to wander around town. I am sure that your protectiveness seems extreme to her friends and perhaps other parents, but the experience I describe above happened in the 1980’s and I don’t think such things have decreased since then. Feel free to share my story with your daughter. It is not always enough to warn and educate one’s own child about such things; making sure their friends are aware of such tactics and seductions of predators is also important. Our parents thought we were safe because we were together. That wasn’t entirely true, but obviously, we would have been much more vulnerable alone. My friend told me later that she was glad I was with her. She said that when I “disappeared,” that she realized she was alone with the man and it scared her. She also said that if I had not left when I did that she might have gone with the man. That dumbfounded me, because she was a smart girl.

    I share your strong feelings on this topic….which is probably why post is as long (or is it longer?) as yours! 🙂

    1. .which is probably why post is as long (or is it longer?) as yours! 🙂

      Type away! I was beginning to feel a bit self-conscious again.

      Really, I don’t think intelligence is as important as one might think. Insecurity over any number of things can run deep in the heart of a young person and make that individual extremely vulnerable to friendly-sounding flattery.

      The fact that a child is “smart” can compound the guilt issue, though, should anything bad actually happen.

  5. Heather,

    You are right; intelligence does not necessarily safeguard a child. That is the thing about these predators; they seem to have an instinct, a radar of sorts, and seem to know exactly how to approach a particular child. It’s like they can almost smell a vulnerability. That is what is so scary about them. That man’s approach partly worked with my friend because she was his intended target. I was just “in the way,” so to speak. Had he set out to target me, no doubt he would have gone about it in a very different sort of way.

    And you are so right about the guilt a smart child can feel in such circumstances. They are supposed to “know better.” I remember my friend catching much heck about her response to the creepy man. After all, she was supposed to be “looking out for me.” So, the adults were not exactly happy with her. We didn’t get hurt, but it was a close call.

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