I’m a mother. My eldest is a teenage girl. I was once myself a teenage girl. So I can tell you with absolute authority having been there myself and parenting a teenager now that just because a child has the body of an adult, it doesn’t mean they are one.
We look at adults and believe that they should be able to make their own informed decisions. We want them to be strong enough to say “No”. We assume adults know their own minds, but how many adults – that is over 18’s, do we know that are incapable of all of this? So if adults can’t always protect themselves, how do we expect our children to? Older teenagers, the 16 and 17 year olds in our society are above the age of consent in the UK (which is set at 16) but are younger than the age at which the law deems them to be an adult. Therefore they are children who have little legal protection against exploitative adults.
The Children’s Society is a national charity that works to support children and young people at their most vulnerable. They are currently campaigning to strengthen the law so that sexual offences against all children, including those aged 16 and 17 will not be tolerated.
They are recommending:
Protecting our children from CSE (child sexual exploitation) is something that we can all do – whether we are parents or not. I have just completed an easy, 30 second form on The Children’s Society website to invite my MP to learn more about the Seriously Awkward campaign, which has been influencing the Policing and Crime Bill. The event for MPs takes place on 13th April 2016 – ahead of the vote on the Bill, so you’ll need to act now to invite your local MP to attend, and do your bit to help protect all our children. To invite your MP to attend, go to this page and click on the red button that says ‘Ask your MP to meet us’. Then you will fill in your name, address and email and hit ‘submit’. The next page finds your local MP for you and contains a letter that you can amend with your personal views, but also contains all the pertinent information they need. Just hit ‘send’ and the email is sent to your MP.
The more MPs that are invited to attend, and the more times an MP is invited to attend, the better. You can learn more about how The Children’s Society works to stop child sexual exploitation here.
As the ‘Mama bear’ in my household I can honestly say that I would rip apart any predator limb from limb with my bare hands if they dared to try to harm a child and I know hundreds of other parents who feel the same. However not all of the UK’s children have someone in their lives who will fight for them, and even of the kids who do, they cannot always see or know that exploitation is taking place. I’m aware that predators in adult life may have been abused as children – there are thousands of scholarly articles about the victim to offender cycle, but the abuse has to stop somewhere. A line has to be drawn. Enough has to be enough.
Individually we can be vigilant and talk to our kids. We can be sure to listen to our children, not just when problems arise but all the time. There’s that saying by Catherine M Wallace that goes:
“Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
However a way that you can make a difference, right here, right now is to invite your MP to attend the Seriously Awkward event and help protect our children from child sexual exploitation.
Thank you in advance for your support on this campaign and for looking after children. We need more Mama and Papa bears.
Other blog posts I’ve written about child safety and protection:
Keeping our kids safe online
A parent’s guide to the social networks your kids are using