Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America have fun with three different headlines, starting with the news that Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott will run for U.S. Senate this year, possibly giving Republicans their best chance of winning that race. They also scratch their heads as Twitter CEO and supposed free speech champion Jack Dorsey describes a Medium article as a “great read” after it calls for all of America to follow the progressive path of California, says that conservatism must be thoroughly defeated, and labels Republicans as “bad guys on the wrong side of history.” And they fume after former First Lady Michelle Obama likens the presidencies of her husband and Donald Trump to parenting children. They also get a kick out of Mrs. Obama saying we shouldn’t look to make someone president just because they give a good speech.
The explosion of sexual abuse revelations in recent months reveals a much bigger problem than many imagined, and Americans are now far more aware of the sexual abuse of children from cases ranging from Hollywood to disgraced USA Gymnastics Dr. Larry Nassar.
And a career sex crimes prosecutor says parents can play a vital role in preparing kids to recognize lewd behavior and in helping them come forward if abuse has occured.
Stacey Honowitz serves as an assistant state attorney in Florida, specializing in cases of sexual abuse. She is also the author of “My Privates are My Privates,” a book designed to teach young kids about where people should not be touching them.
Honowitz says the litany of allegations of abuse remind us all that sexual predators are not creepy looking guys in trench coats.
“I’ve seen in my 30 years experience that it’s not that stranger. It’s normally somebody that you know. It could be someone in the family. It could be a coach. It could be a rabbi. It could be a priest. Sex crimes really know no boundaries. Anybody can be a predator and anybody can be a victim,” said Honowitz.
In short, it’s often people that we instinctively trust who may feel the most emboldened to act in an illicit way.
“What we find is people who were so trusted are usually master manipulators, because they know that the kids trust them. They know the kids aren’t going to report them. They know the kids have this bond with them. They feel they can manipulate the child so if they do something wrong then that child is never going to come forward,” said Honowitz.
“And that’s what we saw in Nassar. These girls never thought that this elite doctor who was training the Olympic athletes would ever do something and cross the line. So they didn’t know to report it and they didn’t know if something was wrong,” said Honowitz.
That why she says parents must communicate with their kids that any improper touching from anyone is wrong.
“You want tell your kid, ‘Even if you love [the suspected predator], even if you trust them, they can always do something to betray that trust. And you can never feel funny about telling mom or dad or somebody that you feel uncomfortable,’ even if you think to yourself this could never be happening,” said Honowitz.
With an endless array of after-school and weekend extracurricular activities, Honowitz says it is vital for parents to keep an eye out for some telltale signs of trouble, starting with someone who is spending more time than necessary with your kids.
“A lot of parents feel that if someone is taking such an interest in their child that it’s wonderful. And I’m not here to tell you that every coach in the world or every person that’s nice to your kid is a sexual predator because that’s not the case.
“But if you see conversations, text messages, the person wants to take your kid when you’re not around, tells you they’re going to babysit or take them to the movies. If it doesn’t pass the smell test or the relationship is just reeking of something that’s not kosher, you need to ask your kid.
“‘What’s going on? Why are you spending so much time? Why is he giving you presents? Why is he taking you there? Why is he asking if you want him to babysit? Why is he taking you to a practice when you don’t have a practice?'” said Honowitz.
She says seeing the warning signs is not as complicated as some think it is.
“You really just kind of need to be smart. Use your common sense. We all think this is such a major thing and that it’s rocket science. It’s not. It’s common sense to see that someone wants to spend a lot of time with your kid and you’re trying to figure out why,” said Honowitz.
If concerns do arise, Honowitz encourages a clear, unscripted conversation.
“You don’t ever want to say, ‘Step one, tell me what happened. Step two, did he talk to you?’ You don’t want to do it that way. That’s why the conversation needs to start early and very casual,” said Honowitz.
How early should the conversation start? Probably earlier than you’d like it to and earlier than you think it should.
“You have to teach the kids, ‘My Privates are My Privates,’ just like I said in the book and no one is allowed to touch them, even if the person tells you, ‘It’s OK. I need to do it for my job,'” said Honowitz.
And she says teaching kids proper anatomy is also crucial.
“You have to be able to tell them, ‘That’s your private,’ and you have to say it in the terms that are proper. So you don’t want to make up a name for vagina. You don’t want to make up a name for penis. Because you want them to know that this is part of their anatomy and no one can touch them there,” said Honowitz
She urges parents to teach kids those proper names the same time they’re learning where their eyes, nose, hand and feet are. Honowitz also says another good way for parents of young kids to communicate is to tell kids no one may touch them in areas that are covered by their underpants or bathing suit.
When it comes to encouraging kids to tell you if they are being abused, Honowitz says stressing that open line of communication takes a lot of power away form an abuser.
“So many times the perpetrator will say, ‘Listen, if you tell somebody I’m going to do this to you. I’m going to hurt your family. I’m going to hurt you. You’re going to be in trouble.’
“You’ve got to tell the kids, ‘If you feel comfortable enough to tell me, you don’t have to worry. You’ll never be in that position. He’s never going to hurt me. He’s never going to hurt my family. But if you don’t tell me what’s going on, you will be a perpetual victim,'” said Honowitz.
Often times victims and their parents feel powerless if the predator is someone powerful or has a sterling reputation. Honowitz says you’d be surprised what happens once someone comes forward.
“Just like in the gymnastics case, there is strength in numbers. Many times when you feel that your child is going to be the only one it doesn’t work out that way. If your child comes forward, lots of times other people will come forward because someone else has taken that step,” said Honowitz.
If a parent doesn’t know what to believe or has a child who often fails to tell the truth, Honowitz says to always bring the matter to authorities. She says investigators are skilled at determining whether allegations are likely to be true or if a child is being coached by one parent to lie about another in a divorce case or some other scheme is afoot.
However, Honowitz strongly encourages parents to believe your child and let the authorities worry about the investigation. She says dismissing a child’s allegations can do great damage to them.
“If you tell your child you don’t believe them, if that child is being sexually abused you cannot imagine what kind of secrets they have to live with for the rest of their lives.
“We saw it happen in Nassar. We saw one of the fathers didn’t believe his daughter. When everybody started coming forward, he ended up committing suicide because he couldn’t live with the guilt,” said Honowitz.
The Charlie Gard case in Great Britain is stirring fierce debate over whether parents ought to have the final decision for their children or whether the government or children themselves ought to have that power.
But this debate goes much further than the UK or whether the parents of an 11-month-old boy ought to be able to seek additional treatment for their son. In fact, one of the experts weighing in on behalf of the hospital in the Gard case says the American notion of parental rights is now more the exception than the norm thanks to action at the United Nations.
“Unlike the USA, English law is focused on the protection of children’s rights,” said Jonathan Montgomery, professor of Health Care Law at University College London told the Associated Press. “The USA is the only country in the world that is not party to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child; it does not recognize that children have rights independent of their parents.”
For family advocates in the U.S., that statement is troubling both in terms of its low regard for parents but also because it’s not at all true.
“If he asserts that children have absolutely no rights separate from their parents in the United States, he ought to lose his tenure,” said Center for Family and Human Rights President Austin Ruse, who is also the author of “Littlest Suffering Souls: Children Whose Short Lives Point Us to Christ.”
“Children do have some rights separate from their parents. They have rights in criminal law. They have rights in inheriting money. Even an unborn child has rights sometimes separate from his or her mother,” said Ruse.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child took effect in 1990. The U.S. never signed on but most nations have.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is one of these crazy UN documents that most of the world has signed and ratified and most of the world ignores it,” said Ruse.
However, it’s tenets concern Ruse greatly.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child does separate the child from his or her parents in terms of all rights, which is one of the reasons the United States has never ratified it,” said Ruse.
“It also gives the child complete access to any form of information from any source. It’s a downright crazy document and it’s a good thing the U.S. has never ratified it,” said Ruse
Why doesn’t the U.S. sign it?
“The main reason the United States has never ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the same reason the U.S. has never ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on Persons with Disabilities, so on and so forth, is because they put us before treaty-monitoring bodies,” said Ruse.
Whether it’s asserting the rights of children or the superiority of the collective, progressive activists are outwardly calling for parents to have less influence in the lives of their children. In 2013, then-MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry sparked controversy with an ad for the cable channel that called for Americans to think of children as belonging to all of us instead of their parents.
“We have never invested as much in public education as we should have because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of these are our children,” said Harris-Perry in the ad.
“So part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments,” concluded Harris-Perry.
Ruse says the end game for these activists is obvious.
“The endgame of the sexual radicals is to destroy the family. There’s no question about that. It is radical individualism run amok. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is simply part of that,” said Ruse.
“The endgame is to supplant the family. It’s to supplant the church. At the French Revolution, the main idea was to overturn the traditional structures that kept people from being free, the family and the church. So this is all of a piece with those musty ideas from the French Revolution,” said Ruse.
David French of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud President Trump for aggressively rolling back burdensome federal regulations. They also wince at new Census Bureau data showing more Americans aged 18-34 live with their parents than with a spouse, a major shift from 40 years ago. And they brace themselves for Barack Obama’s first public appearance since Inauguration Day and discuss how active Obama is likely to be in policy debates.