When I heard about the kid’s classes last June, I was very excited. As a devoted and enthusiastic fan of the women’s program, I didn’t hesitate for a second and signed up my two younger children. Since they had been present at my own graduation from the 20-hour Basics course, they couldn’t wait! They (and all the other participants) enjoyed it immensely and had a very positive experience showing off their new skills to their amazed and delighted parents. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my eleven-year-old son would really need to use his training, especially within the month.
He had finally decided that he was ready to spend the summer with his teenage brother at sleep away camp. He had visited the camp many times with us and we knew most of the staff, so we were perfectly comfortable that our younger boy would be well taken care of.
I still cringe at the memory of the terrible phone call my husband and I received several weeks later. It was Dr. T., the camp’s owner/director saying, “I need to tell you that Chip has accused one of his counselors of molesting him.” He told me, “Mike (age 21) waited until the other campers were asleep, then took off Chip’s pants and fondled him. It’s Mike’s day off, and I won’t be able to talk to him until he returns. I’ll call you back as soon as I can.” We waited nervously, all the while trying to convince ourselves that it couldn’t be true. It had to be some sort of childish prank. We were certain that Chip didn’t realize how much trouble he’d make for Mike by saying such a thing. (DENIAL!) We were shocked when Dr. T. called back. “Mike confessed. To comply with state law, I had to call the police. They have arrested Mike and I need to take Chip to the Police Barracks for questioning.”
We rushed to meet them there and learned some astonishing facts from the police commissioner (by coincidence, an expert on sexual abuse of children).
1. More boys than girls are victims of sexual abuse.
2. Most kids don’t tell (out of fear or embarrassment).
3. In the more than 1,500 cases that the commissioner himself had been involved in, not once had a child been proven to by lying!
4. It’s impossible to rehabilitate pedophiles because they see children (like my skinny little immature boy!) as appropriate sexual partners. Adults don’t turn them on at all.
Chip was told repeatedly by the commissioner that he was not at fault, he did nothing wrong. (It is always the fault of the adult.) He was taken very seriously from the beginning and he was congratulated and treated as a HERO. There had been not one, but two occasions when Mike had touched him. During the second time, Chip had gathered up his courage and told Mike to stop. Mike did, but strongly threatened Chip and warned him not to tell anyone.
As often happens, it was not a stranger attacking the child, but an adult that he knew and trusted. Because of this, it took longer for Chip to react. Chip waited almost a week, until Mike’s next day off, and told another adult. The commissioner explained to me that Chip’s bravery had not only saved him but also the other boys, from repeated attacks, and that the attacks would probably have worsened to oral sex and/or rape as the summer progressed. Chip really was a hero.
Mike was convicted of a misdemeanor (if Chip had been ten instead of eleven, it would have been a felony), and spent some time in jail before being escorted to the airport and put on a plane bound for his home in England. The camp encouraged all the kids to tell if Mike had done anything to them and called all the parents so they could talk to their kids about it. No other child or parent has come forward with any further complaint.
I feel very strongly that Chip’s training was a huge influence in his decision to put a stop to Mike’s attacks and especially to turn him in. I’m sure the outcome would have been very different without his class. I had cried in the police station that night, not so much because it had happened, but because Chip had handled it so well.
So, what happened to Chip? This year, his grades were better than ever. His self-confidence has soared and he is maturing into a kind and thoughtful young man. And, that’s right, he can’t wait to get back to that camp this summer!