Bar those kids who's creepy stepdads, uncles, family friend etc, sneaked into their bedrooms at night, the majority of the public know little, if anything about the subject of Paedophilia. And you can't blame them for that, it's a yucky subject, best avoided, even by Home Secretaries.
Perhaps I should say especially Home Secretaries, who are advised by experts from law enforcement who err on the side of popular public opinion, rather than the scientific findings and recommendations of the academics. Pillorying the misfits, the socially inept, and those with learning difficulties can still rouse an angry mob and is a sure fire vote winner. It's a bit like the 'drug' problem, the advice of the real experts is ignored, in favour of public opinion and pressure from huge pharmaceutical companies. Paedophiles are a catch all public enemy, everyone hates them.
Having spent 5 years, from the age of 11 to 15 in a Catholic children's home run by a paedophile and a sadist, and having spent my life researching 'evil', I know more about the subject of child abuse than most and that's why I speak up. In the late 1960's, it was decided that children in care would benefit from having a male role model, and the Catholic Children's society advertised for religious, disciplined, single men to come and take (often sole) care of vulnerable children. This of course opened the floodgates for every pervert, predator and sadist to move in with us. And they did. The CSA Inquiry can only be the tip of the iceberg, because putting freaks in charge of kids was the ideology of the time. One can imagine the fatcat Council officials discussing the care of orphans with the Church leaders and a picture of Oliver Twist, a large ham and a wad of notes comes up.
For whatever reason, society, or should I say the Media have picked up and focussed only on the child sexual abuse. This is actually an affront to most of the survivors of these institutions, because the majority of the abuse that was going on was physical and mental. The agenda was to break our spirits, make us conform. The institutions were run like prisons, though we had fewer rights than prisoners, less freedom and more punishments. It wasn't until years later when I learned about the 'Zimbardo Experiment' that I began to make sense of it, though I have to say, I am not entirely sure our 'guards' started out as normal human beings. They were already predisposed to that sort of thing.
But I digress. The ex Jesuit and practicing Opus Dei monk, who had charge of our day to day care had a penchant for boys and a seething hatred for girls. All women (apart from nuns) were whores, he would tell us during his daily sermons. He was accompanied in his vocation by a Sister of Mercy nun who was enraptured by him, and who's idea of fun was giving small children 'Chinese burns' until they cried.
Religious zealots and most of my critics, would argue that the above is a more healthy and nurturing environment for children than say, living with two homosexuals who would never hurt them in a million years. It had the approval of society and the blessing of the Pope. But I'm not bitter, lol.
But let's get back to that 'P' word and more importantly, where the REAL risks to children lie. The unpalatable truth is that the more devious and manipulative paedophiles are drawn to jobs where they will be working with vulnerable children. It is an unavoidable fact, but as we become more enlightened and whistle blowing is becoming more acceptable, the numbers are much fewer (I hope).
From speaking to hundreds of middle aged women over the years, I would say the largest and most active group of practicing paedophiles are those evil men who worm their way into the affections of single mothers. And sexual abuse is probably only one of many distasteful traits brought to vulnerable families by these predators. They normally come with a set of rules for a 'new order', they project manage life to suit themselves, and if they are that way inclined, disciplining the kids will be part of it. To the single mums out there, if you ever meet a guy like that, run!
My next category, I would call The Bogeyman. The one stalking rooftops at night dressed in semi gimp black, waiting to sweep into the bedrooms of kids who's neglectful parents left the window open. He is about as real as the guy dressed as a spider and hiding behind the next chimney. He is a myth created by those who kinda like keeping us all living in fear.
Next up is the Loner, often confused with the Bogeyman, because it is believed that men looking at underage porn online, will go on to buy a black balaclava and abduct children. Highly unlikely. The Loner is the least active, they are not lurking in bushes, they are alone and attached to their PC screen - err, 24/7. That leap from 'watching it' to 'doing it' almost never happens. It's like saying a slasher movie will send the entire audience rushing into the street waving machetes. If one raving lunatic blames his killing spree on a movie he has seen, should it be banned for all the millions who didn't? [go on a killing spree].
A paedophile, or a mass murderer, will always blame someone, or something, else for their wicked actions. That is, 'I wouldn't have done it if I hadn't seen Chucky or Taxi Driver. However, a sexual offender, like anybody else, is the sum of a million composite parts. Triggers can come in any form, all our sexual awakenings are different. Some men can get tinglings from remembering the spankings they got from the dorm mistress, and the gym slips of St. Trinians could bring back happy memories of the girls' school next door. Both could have connotations of 'child sex' in the minds of those who think about that sort of thing. A lot. Is there an appropriate code of behaviour for sexual turn ons? What is or isn't correct in the bedroom? And who gets to decide? Worse, who gets to enforce it? Can you expect a dawn raid if the missus orders a naughty schoolgirl costume and a set of fluffy cufflinks from Anne Summers?
Judging what is, and isn't appropriate is a very grey area, how on earth do you categorize that sort of thing? Betty Boop caused outrage in the 40's because it was believed subliminal images of her naked were being flashed on screen and coud have led to allsorts of gawd knows what. I believe there is a scale for categorizing underage pictures but I daren't look it up in case my computer is pounced on! That's the problem with the 'P' word, we 'know' if we type it out in full, there will be some sort of surveillance team out there flagging us up as dodgy.
I'm simply not convinced that looking at images on a screen leads automatically to violent crime. If the person is already predisposed to violence and abuse, naturally their computer will be filled with obscene images and violent movies. It's not a chicken or egg situation, the rage, the resentment, the hatred and anger has been simmering away for years. They were never going to find Snow White and It's a Wonderful Life in Fred West's cellar. Does anyone honesty believe the tragedy of Aurora, Colorado was the fault of Batman? Choosing which form of art to blame is down to the prosecutor, or more accurately, the press and they usually go for the leftie, commy, artists and musicians like Marilyn Manson.
Demonising art, films and literature because it has had an adverse effect on one raving lunatic in 60million+ illustrates how ridiculous it is to blame child pornography for turning men into predatory paedophiles. I imagine the majority of men look at pornography as often as they can, but that doesn't mean they will sexually assault the first female they encounter.
The Bogeymen and the Loners, live very solitary lives. They have little if no access to children, and due to their inability to socially connect with their peers and other adults, they are timid and fearful. They are trapped in the adolescent stage of their sexual awakening, or should I say the safe world of the pre-pubescent. They have never been able to move onto the next milestone because they have never been able to handle rejection. They don't have the guts or the means to organise a pyjama party for all the local kids.
Despite the dominant ideology that there are predators lurking on every street corner, or more accurately looking at mucky pictures on the net. The reality is, the greatest threat and most immediate danger to kids comes from within the home and from people known by them. That's what the statistics show and so too the tragic headlines that appear when a child goes missing.
But let's get back to those paedophile rings, that dark underbelly of depravity that is supposedly going on underneath all our noses. In the heart of Westminster especially. I don't doubt that kids IN CARE were sexually abused by establishment figures in the 60s, 70's and beyond. The children's home I was in, was 30 minutes from Westminster, and favoured boys were often taken on outings and overnight visits to the capital, plus several days at the Vatican. In those days children's homes and institutions were supermarkets of goodies for those in the know. Children had little, if any, protection. Hardly any saw their assigned social workers, and the orphans literally saw no-one from the 'outside'. Besides which, 'telling tales' incurred punishment for everyone.
I think the break up, and quite literal, knocking down of institutions in the 1970s, reflected the enlightenment as to what was actually going on in these places. The way in which good causes can so easily and so terrifyingly go so bad. The children's institutions and the vast mental hospitals became an abomination on every level. From children forced to scrub floors through the night, to vulnerable patients being hosed down in ice cold showers.
Given the culture that existed at that time, it is probably more than likely that some sort of circle, or in the know club existed. But the crux of the matter here is that kids were available to abuse, that is, kids who would keep their traps shut and had no-one to tell anyway.
That concentration of vulnerable kids is no longer available to the upper echelons. That leaves young offenders and runaways. Sadly, history has shown that the bodies of those seized by evil sadists usually do turn up. When a paedophile ring was operating in Belgium, kids were literally being snatched off the street. everyone knew about. So my question would be, who exactly is being abused by these sex rings?
As for paedophile gangs in the suburbs disguised as regular people, seriously? The majority of us love our kids to pieces, our natural instinct is to nurture and protect them. And most of us, if we are honest, breathe a huge sigh of relief when they are safely tucked up and asleep and we can do what WE want. What most people fail to understand is that child abuse is so much more than inappropriate touching. It is all about grooming and developing a relationship with the child, and the truth is, most adults don't have the time or inclination.
I think the idea that there are paedophile gangs in the suburbs stems from the very strange fantasies of the very strange Ray Wyre that led to the Satanic abuse hysteria in 1988. The establishment took the word of self proclaimed child abuse expert Wyre, and hundreds, if not thousands of lives were destroyed, as kids were seized and subjected to crude and degrading tests while their parents were being demonised, and so too anyone who dared to speak on their behalf. That kind of medieval witch hunt should never happen again, but it did, with Operation Ore, and remains simmering away because witchfinder generals always find a place at the top table. They cast themselves as protectors of children, but I doubt they will find one child who will thank them for being seized.
The goals of the super rich are to own vast mansions and helicopters, dine at the finest restaurants and mingle with the great and good. They don't want to be stuck indoors with the kids. The idea that any of these people worked to get where they are in order to molest children is absurd. These people like challenges, with a child there is no challenge.
The average, middle class professional family, down the road have pretty much the same ideals. Maybe not the helicopter. That is, they don't see children as sexual and yuck, and they don't keeps their kids locked up in the basement like Fritzle. Abused kids don't mix with others, they don't go to school and they don't see medical professionals. Everything those alleging child abuse in the Madeleine McCann case, is contrary to everything we know about child abuse.
For those who genuinely care about children's welfare, the kindest thing they can do, is to offer a warm smile to the stressed out single mum who's baby won't stop crying, and who's toddler is about to kick off. For me the hardest part about being a single mum, was trying to run a household on one wage, and the desperate loneliness. The opportunity to meet men was very limited, I did at one stage, date my stalker (I'll spare you - for now, lol). I remember one New Year's Eve crying into my wine, writing the saddest letter about loneliness you have ever seen and drunkenly faxing it to the Daily Mail. I was mortified when they published it!
It is not only old people who get lonely, it is young people too, especially when they face those long evenings on their own when the kids are in bed. For young women when their need to reproduce (and/or party) is at it's strongest, nature has confined them to the cave. On the odd occasion they do get to go out and shake their pert tiger skin clad bottoms, they are fighting for the leftovers. The good providers have been taken by those with time to fashion their animal skins, paint their toenails and no hungry mouths to feed. All that's left is the wanderers, the thinkers (cute, but a dead loss when there is only one dinosaur toe left in the store cupboard), and those with an excessive love of rotting grapes. Or as I like to call them, the fun ones. I can kind of see now where I went wrong.
But I digress. The best way to protect children is to protect those who take care of them. Most of our population is now upwardly and indeed, downwardly mobile. That is they do not have the close family networks of previous generations. I have always advocated parenting classes, I would put it in the school curriculum if I could! Most parents are shell shocked when the babies arrive, torn between different childcare experts and conflicting advice from two separate families. I come from the 'bin there, dun that' school of thought. The best childcare advice I have ever truly valued, has come from reading about the personal experiences of others. It has also come from wise old men and women I have met along the way, sometimes a few kind words from a stranger can be life changing. I remember one time, dropping one child off at school and hopping on a bus with a suspiciously smelly baby under one arm and a folded buggy under the other. Stressed, dishevelled and balancing precariously, I was stopped in my tracks by an elderly lady who smiled at me and said 'beautiful baby and beautiful mummy'. It changed the entire course of my day, maybe even my life!
Child sexual abuse is by it's very nature, dark, seedy and hidden away from society, but happily it is extremely rare. Other forms of abuse however are extremely common, and actually, fairly easy to spot. Especially when the 'perfect man' starts restricting the vulnerable woman's access to family and friends. I was deeply saddened when the Surestart scheme was demolished by the tories. The best way to prevent child abuse is to educate the mothers. Not with mythology, but with reality. Instead of warning them about a sex offender in Afghanistan who has access to a cyber café, warn them about the boyfriend who demands the kids respect him and says a good hiding never did him any harm.
The best way to protect children is by teaching them to protect themselves. No-one, as yet, has the technology or the public vote to ban information being publically available on the internet. They can, and probably do, carry out all the surveillance they want, but anything they try to ban will instantly go viral. Accept that you cannot protect your children from what they will see and encounter in life. The internet is probably the least of their worries.
As a young, pregnant with my first child, legal secretary to a top London lawyer known as the Silver Fox (yes, I had a huge crush on him), and among his many memorable words were, the best gift you can give a child is confidence. Making the child dependent on you and 'the State', does them no favours whatsoever. I remember my mum telling me, you don't cry in front of anyone, because that means they win. I was going into the convent at the time, and to be fair, that advice probably upped the batterings, but it gave me a severe aversion to hanging my head in defeat.
If you want your child to survive 'in the wild', you have to teach them the skills to survive. Watch the divine David Attenborough for half an hour, and you will soon see that the predators go for the weakest first. If kids respect themselves, they will (subliminally) command respect from others. How do you ingrain that self respect into them? Easy, if you treat your kids with respect they will expect, and indeed demand, that same respect from others. They will know the difference between normal and abnormal behaviour. Children are mimics, they do exactly what you do. If you always say please and thank you, so will they. Unfortunately, the same applies with the negative. If they see you being disrespected and accepting it, that 'acceptance' will become normal.
Complete honesty is essential. They trust you implicitly and if they find you have lied to them about anything other than Santa, they will struggle to trust you again. If you don't tell them the truth, they will lie in bed worrying and filling in the gaps themselves. But don't fill them with fear. The world is still a wonderful place, and everywhere there is beauty.
What troubles me most about our inability to discuss paedophilia rationally is the fact that those children most at risk are not getting the help and resources they desperately need. Those who's parents are cracking under the stress of poverty and homelessness. And it is not sexual assault they fear it is hunger and violence.
Because discussing Paedophilia is considered taboo (I will get 0 retweets), the only side of the debate we hear comes from law and order enthusiasts and alt right loons who have set themselves up as vigilantes. (see Nietzsche quote about punishment on previous page). And because no-one really knows very much about the whole unsavoury business, those with an agenda, can put up virtually any statistics they want. If we take the missing children's stats for the number of kids who go missing each year, they would probably equate to an overcrowded inner city school. Who knew?
But what irks me the most is the demonising of men, and I say this as a post modern feminist and then some. I am blessed in that as a child, I had such positive male role models. Not only my beloved Dad, but a lonely single man who I instantly made my best friend, because he didn't have any. I had the kind of parents who didn't bat an eyelid when their 4 year old daughter introduced a single man in his 30's with a camera as her new best friend. Nor were they in the slightest bit concerned when I insisted on spending every waking moment with him. It was a friendship that lasted many years, and one of the happiest and most rewarding relationships of my entire life.
Sadly it is the kind of relationship that can probably never happen again. Poor old Tom, who had catalogues of pictures of me (I was his muse, lol) would have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register , and I would have been deemed at risk. There was however, nothing sexual in the relationship, all the pictures were in clothes, in public places and with my full and enthusiastic consent. It is tragic that words of wisdom are lost, because there are still troglodytes out there who try to put men off loving kids. I often speak to little ones when in supermarket queues and out and about, but I always make eye contact with the parent first. But for men, they must keep their eyes front, not daring to look at, let alone speak to a strange child. The cloud of suspicion hangs over everyone, but men especially.
But back to confidence, the old Silver Fox was right. At the time he gave me that advice I was reading How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie) (lent out and not returned 4 times!) - now on personal copy 5 and it is marked 'Do Not Remove!'. It contained within it the most moving and beautiful text relating to our attitude to kids that I have never been able to forget. It is the reading equivalent of pure nectar, my Christmas gift and a gentle reminder of the innocence of childhood.
A Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned