I have been following the underage sex case of Joshua Robinson with concern. While I feel he deserves a stronger sentence for the unconscionable acts he has done, I am more concerned by the behavior of the 2 underaged girls who had consented to his sexual advance.
Why did Robinson get away with a relatively light sentence despite the furore the sentence had caused? Firstly, it is because the teenagers were over 14 years old, which meant they were not minors. Thus Robinson could not be charged with having sex with minors which carries a heavier sentence. Secondly, it is because he did not coerce them into sex. The girls had consented to it. That meant he could not be charged with statutory rape which also carries a heavier sentence .
Does it mean it was the fault of the girls? I think it would be superficial and unfair to blame the girls. The buck goes further than the girls themselves.
Why? Now let us think about how Robinson got busted? It was because a 6-year-old girl had told her parent what Robinson had shown her. What had prompted her to tell her parent? Did she know what Robinson showed her was wrong? How did she know that?
The law does not fully protect our children from sexual predation. Only we, parents, can do it.
How can we protect our children?
1) Sexual Education
a) When they are young…
From the time my children were toddlers, I taught them the actual names for their private parts. A young child who is able to name his/her private parts in anatomically correct terms is announcing to the world that he/she has been taught what those are. It also signals to others that it is likely the child knows about inappropriate touches. Sexual predators will stay away from children like that.
When my children were preschoolers, I taught them that no one was allowed to touch or see their privates parts. Likewise, they know no one can ask them to touch or see other people’s private parts. And I mean no one. Not I, not their dad, not their sibling, not even their doctor without us being present. They were taught to let us know if anything like that happened.
My 4-year-old still reminds me that she needs to wash herself when I shower her and I love it. I always use it as an opportunity to reinforce that lesson for her.
b) When they are older…
I started talking about the bees and birds with my children when they were between 10-12 years old. The look on their faces when they realized what their parents did to conceive them was priceless. And that was when I started talking about when sex is ok. Although the topic still makes them squirm somewhat (they are both teenagers now), they know it is not a taboo topic. Once they overcame the initial discomfort, we were able to talk about the topic in a very carefree manner. Most importantly, my children feel comfortable enough to approach me with questions on this topic at any time. And they do.
Giving our children sexual education is not equivalent to encouraging them to engage in sex. We will do more harm to them by keeping this subject shrouded in mystery. By speaking openly to our children about this, they learn it is not a shameful topic. It encourages them to talk to us about it instead of getting their information from strangers. The problem with them turning to strangers for such information is that they can then be easily led astray.
2) Close Relationship
However, in order for our children to feel comfortable talking to us about such a personal topic, we must first have a close relationship with them. And having a close relationship is not just about spending time. We can spend 24/7 with someone and still feel disconnected with him/her. Hence, what we need to do as parents is to invest time establishing emotional connection with our children. The more personal and private a topic, the stronger our emotional connection need to be in order for them to approach us with it.
Let us all do our part to prevent the likes of Joshua Robinson from robbing our children of their innocence. Let us educate our children because knowledge is power. We need to arm our children so they know how to protect themselves.