When writing my book, Badass Parenting, I struggled mightily with how to present the facts about childhood danger without scaring you so badly that you’d put the book down and never touch it again.
It’s hard to discuss subjects as harrowing as sexual abuse, bullying, and abduction without dragging you and your child into a dark place that can lead to hopelessness and helplessness, which then morph into apathy and paralysis. Not a productive place to be when you’re trying to protect your little one.
You need to know what you’re up against, so I’m going to give the facts to you straight up, no chaser. But then I’m going to put them into perspective so you can understand that most of the dangers you fear aren’t real—or are at least blown way out of proportion.
Let’s look at the scary stuff first.
The Scary Stuff
Did you know?
- Half of all children in the world experience some form of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse by the time they’re 18.
- Over half of the human trafficking cases active in the U.S. in 2018 involved children.
- Abusive experiences in childhood create fresh victims and predators, who often pass these experiences down from generation to generation.
- (This is the one that used to keep me up at night): There are hundreds of thousands of predators on the streets and online at any given moment trolling for victims.
- And while kids today participate in regular active shooter drills at school, only the tiniest fraction get body safety training. When they do, the focus is often on “stranger danger” when, in fact, over 90 percent of molestations and assaults are committed by people they know.
And Now from a Different Angle
Okay, you can stop hyperventilating now and take a deep breath. The world isn’t as bad as the media makes it sound. You and your child actually have a LOT of power to keep her safe.
Let’s balance the terrifying statistics listed above with a little perspective:
- Of the 424,066 children reported as missing or exploited in 2018, only around 105 children are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions that are sensationalized on the evening news. (Of course, that’s 105 too many!)
- The number of identified incidents of child sexual abuse decreased by at least 47 percent from 1993 to 2006.
- Rates of sexual assault and domestic violence have been declining for decades and are now a quarter or less of their past peaks.
- Since the early 1990s, the rate for all crimes—violent and nonviolent, against both children and adults—has plummeted by up to 77 percent.
We are actually living in the most peaceful, least violent era in the history of our species (according to author Steven Pinker).
Let that truth sink deep into your bones and brain matter. It’s time to stop worrying so much about nebulous threats and start taking action! In future blogs, I’ll tell you how.
Be the parent your child deserves!
the Badass Grandma
Author of Badass Parenting: An Irreverent Guide to Raising Safe, Savvy,
Confident Kids (to be released in July 2020)
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About CJ Scarlet
CJ Scarlet, aka the “Badass Grandma,” is a danger expert, victim advocate, and crime survivor herself. Most importantly, Scarlet is the doting grandma of three precocious toddlers. CJ has given speeches and workshops at national and international events; and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including MSNBC and NPR.
The former U.S. Marine photojournalist and forest firefighter holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Humanities with an emphasis on human violence from Old Dominion University. Named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story of triumph over adversity is featured in two bestselling books, including Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.