Friday, September 10, 2010

Have men become reluctant to befriend a child for fear of allegations?

Have men become reluctant to befriend a child for fear of allegations?

(Brought over from my old blog page, originally posted August 30, 2010)

“You’ll have to rewrite your main male character,” the agent said during our phone conversation (back when I still thought I needed one of those.) “He acts like a pedophile.” She was busy laying down all the things I’d have to change if she was to represent my manuscript. Needless to say, we did not strike up a relationship.

But she did give me food for thought.

Let me explain: Jack – the main male character of This Bird Flew Away -- is not a pedophile, but a decent individual who cares for this young girl he’s known since she was three, and sets out to gain her trust. And yes, I deliberately made his actions -- which are not explained until the third chapter -- seem as though they may be questionable.

I found such a knee-jerk reaction interesting.

What does a child molester do? (And I don’t mean the grab and rape variety, who account for a very small percentage of child abuse events.) He ‘grooms’ the child, meaning he works to gain her trust. He becomes a friend. He offers a welcoming ear to her troubles, takes her side in her petty dramas, assures her he understands her problems and appreciates her special qualities ...

So how does one tell the difference between a caring adult genuinely concerned for a child, or simply liking the child and enjoying her company and a potential child-molester?

It’s tough.

Even in this fictional work, the first reaction to a man befriending a girl was 'he must be a pedophile.'

I wonder if we haven’t produced a world where adults, particularly men no longer feel comfortable befriending a child, or even coming to the assistance of one. I asked my husband, and he says he feels that pressure. He doesn’t want to be left alone with any of the neighborhood kids who like to visit me in our house.

I did some research on the question. A recent poll in the U.K. found that half the men asked would not risk coming to the aid of a child for fear of being branded a pedophile.

Have our fears so ruled our lives, we’ve isolated children from adult society?

Here is a link to the article in the Daily Mail, U.K. Read and judge for yourself.

Sincerely yours,


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  1. 08-31-2010 11:08:00 AM EST
    09-07-2010 12:09:37 AM EST

    Thanks for your comment, Ron. You're right, we should all be ready to assist a child, yet I understand the reluctance of some. I'm sure allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct are the stuff of nightmares to most men. Thanks again, and I apologize for being so late in getting back to you. (Busy times!)

    Ronnie (brought over from my original blog)
    I think we have created a world where men may feel some reluctance to interact with children, but those of us who worry about that are probably not the ones that need watching. Personally, I am going to put those thoughts aside and help a kid if I think help is needed. I'll take my chances. Nice blog.

  2. Men have a fine line that they can walk without people questioning their intentions. One wrong wink, hug or gesture and accusations may fly. I've known quite a few of the lecherous types who when questioned, always deny and claim they were just joking. Some were employers, others were acquaintances or relatives. Difficult to sort out the true perps.

  3. Hi Peg,

    I can't let myself believe we must shut men out of the lives of children because of what MIGHT happen. When 50% of men say they are afraid to approach a child, even to offer aid, then the world is in a sorry state. Lynda