Corey Feldman, Hollywood, and Pedophilia

It came as no surprise at all when I saw news articles recently come out outlining Corey Feldman’s new book, Coreyography, revealing Corey was molested as a child. Corey describes the grooming process, how he was made to believe it was his fault, and how he was told that the sexual encounters were what “normal people do.” All of these things are stripped right from the same playbook of pedophiles. Having a very broken home life with drug-addicted parents, Corey was primed, as currently are millions of other children in this nation, to be a vulnerable target for abuse. Yes–sexual abuse of minors is even in Hollywood.

Corey believes that pedophilia is a huge problem in Hollywood, and that it is everywhere else too. He says, ” I think there’s a lot more of it than we’d like to believe and a lot more of it in all paths of life. The world is a very, very dark place right now. Right now, more than any other time in the history of mankind we need to have spirituality in our lives, we need to believe in a higher power and stay positive no matter what.” 1. Apparently, experts conclude that pedophiles are a bigger problem in Hollywood than in Corey’s day.2.

I would agree, too. Statistics show it is true. But so does experience. Recently, I met and prayed with a Christian man dying of AIDS who was from West Hollywood. I asked if I could ask him very pointed questions about life as a gay man, and he was very open and honest. What he described sounded more like a horror flick than reality. At the age of 49, he had outlived every one of his friends. Every single one. As a paramedic, he described routine calls for overdoses and suicide attempts in the San Fernando Valley, the porn production capitol of the world. His patients for those types of calls were almost exclusively porn actors. But he also told me something that had struck a nerve with me. He said, “Jimmy, all you hear about is the glamor of the gay lifestyle. As one who lived my whole life in this community, there are things that go on that you wouldn’t believe. And child molestation is wildly out of control here.” Before anyone rushes to blast me, these are not my words. I passed no judgment on my friend. I simply let him tell his story. As a man who was, for years, sodomized by his biological father when he was a young boy, he had the authority to speak on the subject.

Child pornography and pedophilia are everywhere. On lunch break today, the local news had a story of young minors who posted hardcore nude pictures on a pornographic website because their boyfriends told them to. Ironically my own website, which tries to combat child sex abuse, is bombarded daily with traffic from people seeking child porn. Just today the top searches which led people to this very site are “child sex site,” “very young teen hardcore porn,” and “pinay child phonography.” I know what you’re thinking, “What is pinay child phonography?” Pinay is a slang word meaning a Filipina girl but it’s also slang used to describe the most beautiful kind of girl alive. Phonography has appeared almost daily as a search term and is an intentional misspelling of pornography to sort of “fly under the radar” of illegally searching for child porn.

The bad news is that this is a pandemic. Corey Feldman is right that there is a lot more going on “than we’d like to believe.” That’s just it. We don’t want to believe it. So we deny. And the more quiet we are, the more enabled abusers are. It’s also bad news that the majority of abuse is not reported. And the majority of the abuse that is reported never gets investigated. Corey experienced this in December 1993 when he reported the abuse to the Santa Barbara Sheriffs department and they never investigated.3. I experienced it last year when I turned in a prominent person in the churches by handing over files of explicit pictures and comments posted online with young children, only to be told that there was not enough evidence. This happens all the time and it needs to change.

The good news is that more and more people are speaking out about abuse. Where it was taboo in the past, it is slowly gaining attention today. And it’s not just a fringe group quietly typing away at the keyboard. I’m encouraged by the people who have contacted me privately to join forces, who have their own books and websites to specifically educate others and speak out. I’m encouraged by people like Corey Feldman who take an unpopular approach and risk their careers to speak out. I’m encouraged by people like Alison Arngrim, who played Nellie Oleson on Little House on the Prairie, who is speaking out about her sexual abuse as a child. And I’m encouraged by Jaycee Lee Dugard and Elizabeth Smart who were brave enough to recount their horrible kidnappings and rapes from men who stole their innocence. I’m encouraged by former porn stars, prostitutes, and strippers who now have thriving ministries to help rescue women from the industry who’ve never known anything but abuse and exploitation. I’m encouraged by the National Child Protection Training Center for the war they have waged on abuse. And on and on it goes.

Finally, I’m encouraged by my readers who read these blogs, pray, and comment. This is not easy stuff to talk about or read about. But you all do it. And so we press on. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:17 ESV).

When Boundaries Fail, Part 3

security-cameras-over-fence-mounted-steel-barbed-wire-30665401 I could write a lot more on boundaries–don’t even get me started about church leaders and school teachers texting their students! But I decided that today I would write to the countless people who have either failed to set proper boundaries, or their boundaries were still violated and their children were sexually abused. There are over 40 million survivors of child sex abuse in the U.S. alone. Obviously there has been a major breakdown somewhere. My wife and my biggest fear is that boundaries we have set will be overridden by a predator and our child will be molested. Without instilling fear into my readers, the reality is that it happens every day, thousands of times a day.

Should boundaries be crossed to the point of your child being abused, I offer some guidelines to help you through the trauma (and it is very traumatic).

#1 Never be Arrogant or Naïve Enough to Believe That Your Child Cannot be Sexually Abused
James 4:7 (ESV) says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I just read an excellent article titled What Should You Do if You’re Threatened by a Mass Murderer?. It spells out places mass murderers inevitably target: places that offer little or no resistance. These places are specifically targeted by murderers for a reason–they can easily gain access, they can easily kill (young children are statistically the most targeted because they cannot physically defend themselves), and they can sometimes easily escape. Places that offer resistance (i.e. places with armed guards or armed permit-holding citizens) are rarely targeted. Why? Because they are actively resisting evil. It’s tough for a coward to get through armed guards in order to kill, so most likely he won’t.

Also be aware that over 60% of sexual molesters live under the same roof as their victims. This is most likely because there is easy, unhindered access to victims. We must be vigilant even in our own homes and be open to the possibility that spouses or children my suffer with pedophilic attraction to young children.

I’ve said before that sexual predators, like water, find the path of least resistance. It’s time we all stand together and be guards who are armed with knowledge and boldness. Resist. Make it tough for someone to gain access to your child. At the same time, we have to be open to the possibility that our children, even with safeguards in place, could still be victimized, which leads me to:

#2 Talk Openly With Your Children About Their Bodies and Always Listen
Our daughter is 3. Their brains can only comprehend so much. Talk with your children, at their level, about privacy with their bodies. And ALWAYS let your children know that they can talk to you about ANYTHING, and that they will not be in trouble for telling you. Just last night, my precious wife had a mother-to-daughter talk and told our daughter, Eden, “You know that nobody is ever allowed to touch you down there, right? But if anyone ever does, you need to tell mommy or daddy right away. You won’t ever be in trouble for telling us.”

This is extremely important. Eden knows that (1)her body is private and is off limits for anyone to touch in certain places and (2)if anyone ever does (God forbid!), she can tell mommy or daddy without getting in trouble. Victims are most often groomed and framed by perpetrators to believe that the abuse was the child’s fault. Why is this important? Because it guarantees silence! Children will often be told something like this: “You came on to me. I didn’t want this but you turned me on. If you ever tell I’ll let everyone know that you initiated it.” Children believe this because they are highly susceptible to suggestion, gullible and, by nature, are trusting of every adult. A child who believes that the abuse is his or her fault needs, needs, needs reinforcement by their parents that, should abuse happen, it is never their fault and they will not be in trouble for telling.

Strangely, we don’t hesitate to teach children fire drills, tornado drills, gymnasium safety, etc., but when it comes to teaching them sexual abuse safety, we clam up. And predators know it!

Furthermore, a child needs a stable, peaceful home in order to tell. It takes extreme courage and heroism for a child to tell an adult about abuse. If a child lives in a home where mom and dad are constantly shouting, blaming, and accusing one another or their children, a child will likely never tell their parents if abuse has happened. This is because they associate telling with yelling, screaming, and finger pointing. A child who’s been told by a perpetrator that the abuse is her fault will only be afraid of further rejection if they believe a parent will agree, which leads me to:

#3 The Three Most Important Words a Child Who Discloses Abuse Can Hear Is: “I Believe You”
It was the day before my dad’s sentencing in 2012. I was asked by a friend to do a training for his staff on child abuse. After my presentation, several young ladies came to talk to me. One young woman came to me in tears and told me that she, as a child, had told her mom about her dad sexually abusing her. Her mom didn’t believe her and actually yelled at her for “lying.” How, pray tell, will children ever trust anyone to protect them if their own mothers accuse them of lying?

I’m tired of reading accounts where children who are repeatedly abused by the same perpetrator, say to themselves, “I’ll just initiate this (sex) and get it over with.” No child should have to feel that he should endure abuse because nobody will believe him if he tells. If a child discloses abuse, don’t probe, don’t blow up, don’t tell them you’ll kill their abuser, and don’t tell them that they must be mistaken. Do, for the sake of your child, be calm. Do tell them that you believe them. Do tell them that you will do everything in your power to keep them safe. And do report it to the police for investigation.

#4 Churches Should be a Place of Peace and Refuge
I was at a training workshop on abuse and heard stories of children who, after disclosing abuse, were forced to stand before their abuser and forgive him “because the Bible says if you don’t you won’t be forgiven.” Forgiven for what? That very statement suggests that the child did something wrong. And who in their right mind would force a child to stare their abuser in the eye and utter the words, “I forgive you.” I’ll tell you who–the person who has never been abused and has no idea, and doesn’t care to know what it is like, to be sexually humiliated as a child.

It’s troubling to hear all the stories of children who are forced to be put on the stand and relive their abuse to a group of strangers. It’s humiliating. Devastating. What’s worse is hearing all the stories of prosecutors who lament that, more often than not, it is the perpetrators, not the victims, who have teams of people in the courtrooms to support them. Churches are not exempt. What in God’s name do you think it does to young children’s souls when they see people who show up to support their abuser? I beg you to watch this 6 minute clip and listen to the voice of a victim’s mother who just went through this. A Rose City, MI teacher who raped a male student had 6 colleagues write letters of leniency to the judge because “it did no harm to the child.”

As a minister, I loudly and publicly tell my congregation that abuse will not be tolerated whatsoever. Our church will be a place of refuge, not turmoil for children. I want children who may have been abused, or who may one day be, know that we will stand beside them. They can trust us. They can tell us. They will never have to face their abuser and they will never be shamed by their church family because of abuse that happened to them. And finally:

#5 Don’t Get Trapped in the Past
When I found out how many victims my dad had, what their ages were, and some of the details of what he did to them, there are no words to describe the sense of guilt I carried. How did I not see it? What could I have done differently? Why did I fail? How could I be so naïve? I felt a huge burden for what had happened, and I understand that many parents whose boundaries have failed never can move beyond the guilt. How did I let this happen to my baby? How can God forgive me? What if I had been more bold? What if I knew more about abuse? How could I be so trusting?

The devil will gain a huge foothold over your life if you live in the past. The best thing you can do for your child who has been abused is to first forgive yourself and then to focus on protecting and healing your child. Children who see a parent who feels constant remorse and guilt will sometimes feel guilty for ever having told. They do not need to carry that added burden.

Boundaries, Part 2

security-cameras-over-fence-mounted-steel-barbed-wire-30665401Ok, here is the post you all have been waiting for. . . from the perspective of a pedophile’s son, and as one who educates others on a professional level, what are some of the boundaries for my own child? I must preface this post by acknowledging that simply coming up with boundaries will not protect your child. Rules are meant to be followed, manipulated, then broken–in that order–by people seeking access to your child. It is essential to learn how a pedophile typically thinks (not pleasant, I know) in order to understand just how important it is to enforce and adapt your boundaries. As a general rule of thumb, pedophiles will take the path of least resistance. Offer little resistance, and you increase your child’s vulnerability tenfold.

The following boundaries are not exhaustive. In fact, I only list my top 5 here. My wife and I are constantly adding, removing, and adapting boundaries based on our daughter’s age and surroundings, and you are encouraged to do the same. Also, you should be aware that pedophiles are extremely adaptive to technology and environment, and they are generally very patient if it means they can gain access to a child’s body. It may take up to a year or more for them to groom a child and his or her parents in order to have one sexual encounter. Many Christians I know have adopted a “give the benefit of the doubt” mentality to most people and they legitimately feel that it is unfair to assume that someone could be a pedophile. I strongly argue the exact opposite. It is unfair to your child to assume that someone couldn’t be a pedophile.

John the Baptist, as he was baptizing people, said, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8, ESV). In other words, prove that you have changed, don’t just say it. Paul, in giving a defense before Roman authorities, tells King Agrippa that he preached the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles, “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20, ESV).

In other words, Paul didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. Paul wasn’t so naïve as to think that, just because people claimed that they loved God and were good people, it meant that they really were. He demanded, as John did, that they prove themselves through their actions. Jesus, as he sent the 12 out to preach, warned, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). In other words, don’t be naïve and think we live in a safe world where all people should be trusted. Remain innocent, but don’t be fooled. So with that in mind, I demand that people prove themselves when they question my boundaries. You want me to believe you are a good person? Don’t violate my boundaries and then we’ll talk!

Boundary #1–Deny Physical AccessThis is going to sound radical to many people, but we don’t want adults to be alone with our child unless we have a sitter who my wife and I both approve (we only have 2 sitters who we trust and have used; they are both women). Because the majority of molesters are men, we do not allow any men to be alone with our child. We do not apologize for this. It’s not that women can’t or don’t offend, but there are far less women than men who do. We are still vigilant with the women who watch our daughter on rare occasions. There are other physical boundaries–tickling, wrestling, holding, certain types of hugs, etc. are off limits. Period.

Boundary #2–Deny Picture/Video Access of Our Child to the Public
I see it too many times–the majority of my Facebook friends incessantly post “cute” pictures and videos of their kids for the world to see. Natalie and I rarely put any pictures or our child up. When we do, they are set so that only our friends can see them and our daughter is fully clothed. We have made a decision not to send any pictures of our daughter to dad, either, despite his repeated pleas for photos of “the grands.” July of 2011 is the last he has seen our daughter. Just last week dad wrote me saying that he doesn’t understand why we don’t send him pictures and he hopes we change our mind. I doubt we will. It is very sad, but when you remind yourself how someone takes something very innocent and manipulates it into something perverted for masturbatory fantasy, you will (hopefully) stick to this boundary as well. I’ve written on this before (see my Facebook: Playground for Pedophiles and How You Dress Your Child Matters). I assured dad that withholding pictures is not a punishment. His prison sentence is a severe punishment for his crimes. Rather, it is a protection for our daughter. There is a big difference between punishment and protection.

Pedophiles constantly rob public photos and videos of young children from Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pintrest, Flickr, etc., fill their hard drives with them, and share them with each other. The following is a video that, most likely, some innocent mother originally posted of her waking up her young daughter. Someone grabbed it, reposted it with a different title, and it is a pedophile best hits video. If you don’t believe me, look at the comments and the other videos that appear on the sidebar. Some of the comments are: “im actually a multi millioanire businessman who travels the world frequently, and i need a plaything as a stress relief, if anyone can get me into contact with this little princess i will wire you US$1,000, im desperate for some young blonde flesh” and “God dangit. What is it about a girl just waking up that’s such a turn on? And my god she’s gorgeous.” and “She is soooo Hot! I’d love to be under them sheets with her!”.

It’s hard to tell, but she is probably about 10-12 years old. It’s hard to believe that this video is such a turn on, but it has become grossly sexualized by those living in fantasy land. Think like a pedophile before you post pictures and videos of your child for the world to see (or as in this case, for over 107,500 to view).

Boundary #3–Don’t Be the Sole Helper With My Child In the Bathroom, But Don’t Leave Her Alone Either
This one is difficult to enforce, but since my wife works at the daycare where our daughter goes, we have a major upper hand. Children should not be allowed to go to the bathroom alone; they should take bathroom breaks in groups. Being alone makes them very vulnerable for a number of reasons. For one, they can get hurt, get locked in the bathroom, or mess themselves and nobody would know it. For another, any adult roaming daycare, school, or church halls could easily walk into a bathroom and sexually offend a kid and nobody would know it. An adult helping a child solo is a terrible idea, too. Believe it or not, one tactic for some pedophiles is to feed children laxatives so they poop their pants. Then the “super hero” comes in to change the child’s clothes and clean him or her up. There is a lot more than cleaning going on in this scenario.

So, either take your child to the bathroom yourself (if you are physically present, like at church) or insist that two adults assist your child with zero or minimal physical contact. This includes at school, too. I’ve spoken with elementary teachers who told me that there are private bathrooms attached to each classroom and they’ve seen other teachers go into the bathroom with just them and a child and then close the door. That would be my daughter’s last day of school if this happened to her. Be aware of your school’s policies and if bathroom accountability is not scripted into the policy, demand that it be or pull your child from school.

Boundary #4–Doctor’s Visits With My Child Include Me or My Wife Too
As far as I know, there is no standard policy where doctors must have an aide present with children. I have a brother who is a doctor, but I haven’t asked him what his policy is. But it doesn’t matter much. I know what my policy is. When I was in high school, I had to have a physical by a guest nurse who came to our school because I played basketball. The nurse was a she, she was young, and she was attractive. She commanded me to “drop my drawers” and so I did–with just her and me in a room. While nothing sexual happened, that was a horrible call on her part. I do not allow any doctor to shut him or herself in alone with my child for any reason whatsoever. This includes pediatric doctors, dentists, nurses, or anyone who can gain physical access to my child in any way. My wife or I will make ourselves available for all of her (and our soon to be boy’s) appointments. And we will be present in the room with the doctors and/or nurses.

Boundary #5–No Secrets With My Child
Another technique in the playbook of grooming children is to tell them something like, “You’re my special friend. I’ll let you have candy (or whatever the parents forbid), just don’t tell them. It will be our little secret.”

We all do it with our kids. We playfully tell them little silly secrets. I’ve caught myself being reeled into this child’s play with my daughter. “I have a secret. . . . Daddy loves you.” But then I catch myself. If I love my daughter, why turn it into a game whereby I program her to normalize something that is crucial for predators to operate and offend? Why not just tell her, “I love you”? I have to constantly remind myself not to play the “I have a secret” game with her, because I don’t ever want her to think that, because daddy tells me secrets, it must be ok for others to tell me secrets. Secrets are not ok. As adults, we are unforgiving of secrets and they are associated with gossip or betrayal. Why, then, do we normalize and play games telling secrets with our children? It may seem trivial, but it’s really not. I have a stack of about 30 books on pedophilia. There’s one thing that is in every one of those books–pedophiles constantly groom and test children by playing “secret” games.

Let me know your thoughts. What are some of your boundaries? What are some things we can do to make sure our parental boundaries are not crossed?

Setting Boundaries, Part 1

security-cameras-over-fence-mounted-steel-barbed-wire-30665401I was asked to write about what my boundaries are with my child for daycare, baby sitters, nursery at church, and everywhere else. I must admit that setting proper boundaries is extremely difficult because it is vital to the protection of your child. . . so coming up with those boundaries, knowing what the right boundaries are, being consistent in keeping those boundaries (add to the mix of trusting that others will enforce your boundaries), and being willing to adapt those boundaries just terrifies me. Being the son of a pedophile, I now know firsthand how dad was so easily able to gain access to children, isolate them, and abuse them. Thankfully, he is raw when we talk. He’s told me that I can share some information from his letters, and I will here. One line from a letter that will forever stick in my mind is this: “Jimmy, I dropped kids off at a Christian daycare and I could have easily abused any kid I wanted from there. Daycares are one of the easiest targets for pedophiles.” Though he assured me he didn’t abuse any kids from that particular daycare, his words haunt me yet. He was not a daycare worker, yet he still admitted that, as an outsider, he could have abused any kid he wanted. My daughter goes to daycare. I see TONS of gaping holes in which a pedophile could walk right through. Access to your kid’s body is the key that unlocks your child’s innocence. Period. I will establish the reasons why we should restrict access to our children in this blog, then write about what those boundaries are in part 2.

WHY SET BOUNDARIES?
The reason why we do things is important. Most people don’t want to think about the “why.” Not in this area. Our minds want to believe that “good” people would never do these things to young children, especially a close family or church friend. 40 million survivors of child sex abuse in our country alone will tell you otherwise. So our easy answer is to teach our kids about “stranger danger,” a useless strategy since the majority of molesters are groomers and over 75% of molesters are known by the victim. But we feel better about having taught our kids “safety” and so we blindly drop them off at daycare without questioning their policies, we leave them alone with a babysitter or nursery volunteer, granting unlimited access to our kids, we let them have sleepovers at their friends’ houses–never thinking that mom, dad, or siblings living in the house could be pedophiles, we drop them off at Kindergarten without asking about safety policies, we pat them on the head as we drop them off at Christian camp for the week, and we let the doctor examine our children alone because he is, after all, a professional.

But guess what? Every single scenario I just mentioned are considered “high risk” areas. They are called high risk because the main ingredient for the recipe of sexual assault is present in every one of them–access. While you were worried about whether your kid will get along with other kids, or pass his physical examination, or get good grades in school, you overlooked one vital fact–you left your kid alone at a place where he or she can very easily be isolated from the herd and be sexualized by an adult within seconds.

Am I too over protective? I get asked that a lot. Ask Dr. David Wilson, a respected child psychiatrist and osteopathic physician and surgeon from Ogden, UT who was charged last Monday for 15 counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and who was looking at hundreds of graphic nude images of children aged 6-12 on his office computer at the hospital where he worked.1 This is not an isolated incident. It. Happens. All. The. Time. I daily read of stories of sex crimes committed against children–committed by family friends, doctors, ministers, baby sitters, teachers–and the story is always the same: “We never would have thought he was doing this to children.” Exactly.

Worse yet, the multitude of stories we read about in the news only include the people who are getting caught. We have a responsibility to set real boundaries for our kids. Unapologetically. And here’s the great irony–the more you establish boundaries to keep your kids safe, the more you will be ridiculed by family, friends, and peers. When they don’t care to understand the why, you are just being a paranoid weirdo. But guess what? It’s not their kid! It is so important to understand how pedophiles think, operate, groom, and gain access to children. Without this understanding, you will never, ever, ever, ever see the real need to set important boundaries for your kids’ protection.

I will write a follow up on what boundaries my wife and I have set for our daughter, and how that is not adequate for her protection. More, not less, needs to be done. We can do this without being paranoid or locking them in their rooms for life. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Subscribe if you would like to follow these important blogs. I’d love to hear some of the reasons why some of you have set boundaries for your kids, and what (if any) backlash you’ve received because of it.