Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Parenting, Innocence, and the Threat of Sexual Abuse

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Parenting, Innocence, and the Threat of Sexual Abuse

Article excerpt

A Christian Science perspective: How a mom responded when a man who lived in the same apartment complex was rumored to be a pedophile.

Innocence looks to have taken some hits lately, as long-term sexual abuse scandals have been uncovered in the United States. These crimes have targeted children, and, at least in my community, have prompted a greater concern among parents, teachers, and coaches, who want to keep kids safe. To protect themselves, some coaches are even adjusting their habits so that they're never again alone with a student athlete.

Perhaps a new era is emerging, with greater sensitivity for children's well-being. This kind of alertness is a sign of progress. Those who want to support this progress might find prayer a good place to start.

I find that prayer opens me to practical, healing ideas, coming from God. In this way, prayer can support the innocence that's within each of us, along with supporting wholesome interactions and activity in the community.

My family and I once lived in the same apartment complex as a man who many neighbors suspected was a pedophile, although no one had witnessed any inappropriate actions. My young children and I often chatted with this man, and once another mom chided me and advised us to avoid him.

I had to admit that I did have some fears about this neighbor. Even though I was friendly to him, inside I wondered, when the kids and I ran into him, whether my presence was the only thing shielding them from possible harm. But I also knew that avoidance and fear were not really a solution.

Was there a way that my family could promote a safe, supportive atmosphere for everyone?

I honestly didn't know if this neighbor had any criminal offenses on his record. However, I didn't feel totally in the dark - previous experience had shown me that prayer could quell fears and help me think clearly and make good decisions. I already knew that I wasn't going to leave my kids alone with him. A spiritual outlook about this situation would further protect my family, my neighbors, and this man himself.

A statement by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, came to mind: "Love, the divine Principle, is the Father and Mother of the universe, including man" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. …

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