Protecting children

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 19, 2002

In the wake of Samantha Runion's murder in California, the horror of pedophilia comes again to the public's attention. It is not a new sickness – civilization unfortunately has recorded its occurance thousands of years back. Think of the Greeks and Romans with their catamites. But thankfully, we now live in an age and a culture where it is recognized as a social evil and one that must be, if at all possible, eradicated. Even those children fortunate enough to escape death at the hands of their predator are not fortunate at all. They are scarred forever, and may even continue the cycle by becoming molesters themselves.

What do we do with the convicted molesters? Some studies have shown a 99 percent recidivism rate. Given the flaws and human errors of our justice system, we believe it is safe to say that some of those convicted are innocent, which brings the recivism rate even higher. In interviews with psychologists, the police and the press, many pedophiles have admitted that yes, they would do it again as soon as the opportunity arose.

What we have to do is make sure the opportunity never arises.

As parents, no matter how liberal our leanings, there is a secret, ferocious voice in our hearts that calls for a mandatory death sentence – stamp out a link in the chain and we may break it. One expert was quoted as saying there was a cure for pedophilia – John Wayne Gacy was cured. Ted Bundy was cured. But the reasoning voice reminds us of those who were wrongly accused or convicted. A life sentence is another option, one that the ferocious voice finds vengefully appealing, given the usual treatment of child molesters in prison…

Our first step in making sure the opportunity never arises begins with the children themselves. Don't restrict the lessons to "Don't talk to strangers." Tell them what the lures are, how the predators entice their victims away. Teach them how to protect and defend themselves. "Bushido" is the Japanese "Way of the Warrior" –

a code of conduct for fair play among the Samurai class, much like Queensury rules for boxing. Forget them both. Have the children learn every dirty trick in fighting there is – give them an advantage over their older, larger, stronger and slyer antagonist.