CHICAGO, IL – As the details around the Josh Duggar story continue to make their way into the forum of public opinion, we would like to ask people to take a step back and pause for a moment.
Why is this?
Because the Josh Duggar story is a learning moment for everyone who believes that children deserve great childhoods, as well as a moment to discuss what we teach our children about healthy sexuality when we teach them about sex.
As the Duggar story reflects, parents must find the comfort, courage and resources to have an open dialogue with their children about sexuality.
And why is this? Because:
– If something goes wrong, as it did here, children need language and permission to be able to seek help.
– Youngsters, especially boys, need to learn early that sexual arousal is an autonomic response – a reflex caused by a thought, a memory or a touch – and that experiencing arousal does not mean that they need to act on it.
– Unchecked curiosity about sexual anatomy can lead a child of either gender to “explore” other children.
Once we know this, what else do we need to understand?
We need to understand that adolescents are naturally lacking in empathy, and that their ability to comprehend that their behavior causes a feeling in another person is not fully developed.
Further, for many adolescents, their arousal (or curiosity) is the only thing that matters to them, and the fact that their victims have feelings is far from their frame of mind.
And why is this important?
Because when parents, schools and faith-based agencies embrace this, they can focus on the type of social emotional learning that emphasizes empathy.
So once we know these things, where can we go from here?
While we don’t want to underestimate the pain caused to the victims in this story, or others like it, neither do we want to demonize an adolescent. Our country developed an entire juvenile justice system based on the knowledge that juveniles do not have the fully formed capacity to make informed and rational decisions. We also know that adolescents showing this type of behavior have a very positive prognosis after intervention.
So, rather than debating what should happen with Josh Duggar now, let’s take a moment and encourage families, all families, to promote sexual health, safety and open lines of discussion in their homes, and prevent this from ever occurring in the first place.
If you’re not sure what to do, contact us, we’re happy to talk about it with you.
“We all want great childhoods because our children are our future,” said James M. Hmurovich, President & CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America, “And right now we need to act on this belief. We need to talk to our children about sex, we need to support organizations that prevent child sexual abuse, and we need to ask ourselves if we as a nation are truly having an open dialogue about healthy sexuality. If the answer is no, we need to act on that too.”