Wednesday, May 10, 2006

8-Year-Old Sexual Predators

Many people seem unaware that children do sexually abuse other children, and CNN--possibly ignorant of this before now--is stunned by a clear case of it at an elementary school in St. Louis. The report doesn't get very specific about what happened, but apparently it takes twelve 6-to-8-year-old boys attacking an 8-year-old girl for people to realize that children are capable of being sexual predators.

When we hear about childhood sexual activity, it's always presented as though the almost-innocent "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" play is the only type that exists. There are two things everyone seems to forget about childhood once their own is over: 1) Children are manipulative, bestial and conniving little creatures, especially when dealing with each other outside of direct adult supervision; 2) Children have sexual urges that are unfocused, and their sexuality can therefore be pointed in any number of directions. It seems to me that children could be more likely, not less, to express their sexuality in immoral, violent ways, because sexuality is something outside of their understanding or control.

Childhood sexuality is extremely complex, and there is a broad spectrum of types of activities that go on between children without adult knowledge. Children do all kinds of immoral things to each other that they would never do in their adult life. The kinds of influences kids get--whether from entertainment, adult conversations, or pedophilia--coupled with children's ignorant nature make it very understandable that this would take place.

This is an issue that is ignored altogether in most books about childhood sexual abuse, so the moral lines and the psychological consequences of different levels of childhood sexual activity are rarely drawn. Where does play end and trauma begin?

11 Comments:

Blogger Wickedpinto said...

I don't know about 8 year old predators. I remember from my childhood, I was somewhat well informed about sex before I knew what it was, but I knew that I liked girls, and I wanted to touch them, that might have been facilitated because I had a big brother who was quite older than I.

I did some shady jazz as a kid, but it wasn't because I was cruel or wanted to humiliate, it was more along the lines of the fact that I didn't know much, and myself and my friends cobbled together a bizarre philosophy on sexuality from our combined ignorance. Whenever I crossed a line, I wasn't hauled off in shackles, I was punished, severely (for a normal kinda kid) and it was explained to me why what I was doing or saying was bad.

As soon as reality came into conflict with my incomplete information and ignorant assumptions I had what I call an "oh S#@#" moment. I realized "hey that ain't right, now I get it"

I was also fortunate to have peole around me who were honest and caring, so whenever I had just enough information to get me into trouble, it was quickly corrected.

It's the institutionalized stuff thats bad, when kids get just as incomplete information from sources, but are expected to be experts, they are left alone. Once left alone kids always create cliques, and share their half assed opinions with eachother, without out ever being corrected, JUST punished.

It's a tough thing to put your finger on, but I can see how an 8 year old could be a moron and not think twice about it, until it is explained to him why he is a moron, and then feel realy bad.

Ignorance may not be an excuse, but it is a cause. and 8 year olds are by nature, ignorant.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

wickedpinto: Thanks for sharing. And, yes, it's still the fault of adults if this stuff happens. Do parents EVER talk to their children about this? It's the combined effect of children by nature having little to no self-imposed morality and parents not educating their children. The question of what the consequences should be for the children, then, are highly contentious. Along the same lines, I've found that strangely few parents actively try to prevent their children from becoming bullies.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

...the "are" should be "is" in the second to last sentence of that last one.

2:31 PM  
Blogger Maxine Weiss said...

Chris does your mother vet these blogs before publication?

Just curious.

Peace, Maxine

8:25 PM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

Maxine: No. Why do people keep asking about that?

9:10 PM  
Blogger Wickedpinto said...

Maxine? Chris is a grown man. Just because his mother reads it doesn't mean he has to censor himself.

One time I had my mother stop off at my place while I was slaying some chick against the wall of my main room. My mother didn't want to interrupt, and finaly rang the bell after the chick stopped screaming for more.

I didn't have a single problem with it other than this, I told mom "listen, if you hear that stuff? leave, I'm not in the mood for a motherly hug"

I didn't do it to be cruel, but she went out of her way to make me feel uncomfortable, since I answered the door naked except for a pair of jeans, that I was not wearing, but covering a strategic area.

Grown men and women, are grown men and women. You can make a JOKE about it, but this was a serious topic Maxine.

You can joke about he masturbation thread, but this one? Thats just silly.

2:15 AM  
Blogger Wickedpinto said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:21 AM  
Blogger Goesh said...

Kids will act out what they see at home and elsewhere. It is probably more aggression, bullying and intimidation than sexuality.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Christopher Althouse said...

wickedpinto: Thanks for your support, but I deleted the second of those comments, because I don't want people swearing at each other here.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Wickedpinto said...

No sweat, I give into the streem of consc too deep sometimes. Thanks for saving me from myself.

12:54 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

I am blessed(?) to have an 8 year old daughter who comes to me later and tells me the straight truth, even if it frightens me to death.
She told me a few days ago that last month, at a child's birthday party, she went into an area where the birthday girl and her brother often go to watch deer. He invited my daughter to see if they could find some. He's 11. While there, they got talking about sex, and she (remember - she's EIGHT) was curious what it's like. He agreed to DO it with her! She was (thankfully!) lucky that his sister / her friend caught up with them to look for deer, and he stopped.
She said at first she was curious, but when the time actually came, she got scared, but did NOT say NO. She said she was too scared to say anything. She's been feeling "dirty" (her word) ever since and needed to talk with me.
We do NOT model such behavior at home. We're not deviant, etc.
What should I say to prevent this from EVER happening again? I said more than this, but basically I told her that I was sorry this happened, and that it's important that she doesn't put herself in a private situation where she could get above her head. I also reminded her that there are *reasons* that it's supposed to be sacred between married people. She shocked me by asking if I would SHOW her "a movie or something" that would show her what sex is like, so she won't be curious anymore.
O-B-V-I-O-U-S-L-Y I'm not going to show my daughter PORN. I told her no, and again emphasized the importance of understanding sex as sacred and that there's a reason they call it making LOVE.
Honestly, I don't think what I said was enough. She just wasn't buying it.
PLEASE everybody. Some of you are out here saying it's the parents. We are a close family, and we just want to keep her safe. Other than shackling her in to her room for the next ten or so years (grin), what CAN I do to get through this?

8:48 PM  

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