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.

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.

19 Replies to “Setting Boundaries, Part 1”

    1. We sure do, friend. Thank you for opening your heart and soul to share the reality of the aftermath of this plague.

    1. Thank you, Linda. My feeble mind is in overdrive. This is not an easy topic, and there is no uniform answer. I’m working on Pennsylvania certifications to be an instructor for schools, daycares, etc. because our governor passed Act 126, which mandates training in this area for all employees at school entities. While that is a good thing, there is no uniform training for the state. There are basic guidelines, but there is no uniform guide to offer help on setting up boundaries and developing school policies. So this blog series is good for me to flesh out some of my thoughts that will become part of my training for potentially thousands of school employees.

  1. Jimmy, I can only imagine how difficult this must be – facing the reality and writing so openly about it. I’m so proud of you and your sweet mom for all you’re doing to make us all more aware. You have my utmost respect and encouragement.

  2. I’m ready for part 2. I am constantly discussing, forming, and adapting boundaries at home, school, church, etc. One difficulty, among many, is the communication required between my wife and I in new situations. Its very easy to assume she is comfortable with a situation, and her to assume I am comfortable in a situation, and we get some passive boundaries.

    1. You may be ready for part 2, but I’m dreading it! I’ve put off writing about this for some time, perhaps because I feel so inadequate. Even with great boundaries established, it’s still possible for our kids to become prey. You and your wife are very wise to be talking about this with each other, even when communication is not what it should be. My wife and I struggle with the same thing. You are wise to adapt, too. Child molesters are very adaptable, which is why one set of uniform boundaries will never work. I’ll be curious to hear feedback on part 2, so that people can help fill in some blind areas. Keep the discussion alive!

  3. Such scary things to think and talk about. It takes guts to do this Jimmy. Thank you for having those guts! I will be passing this blog along to our administrator at Alec and Julia’s school (and Isaac’s daycare). Keep it coming Jimmy…Prayers all the way!

    1. Thank you, Brooke. It’s time we get much better policies in place at schools, daycares, churches, etc. I’m hopeful because it seems more and more people are willing to talk openly about it. If your kids are at Alliance, I just got booked today to speak there to parents of the school and daycare on October 22! Thank you for the prayers. We all need to be on our knees. God bless!

  4. Thank you Jimmy for your ongoing work here. I am interested in so many ways, in particular boundaries. Through yours & your mums blog I have identified possible suspects IN the family. (Father in law & Brother in law) so I am in constant alert and my spirit groans with aggregation when my children are touched and tickled.
    Some boundaries I have put in place includes teaching my children to say please stop and stop means stop. Then stepping in myself when not adhered to. Other times I avoid meetings. And I choose to dress my daughters in dresses with leggings or pants and a shirt if needed which is most of the time.
    Just writing that says to me it’s not enough I need more and the courage to put it into place.
    And separate the trusting relationships.
    So hard is the fear accompanied means I’m taking all 5 to a meeting just so I can keep an eye on them.
    I’ve heard it said that you need to trust God to protect the children he gave us. Now I think I know what you thinking about that but I guess I’m asking where is the line? Trust and taking precautions. I don’t know. It’s hard.

    1. I’ll address most of this in part 2. It’s not easy to define boundaries, let alone enforce them. It’s really tough. I’m thinking about writing a part 3 that deals with how to not blame ourselves when boundaries are crossed or ignored. Oftentimes, even when parents establish boundaries, their children still become victims of this horrible abuse. When that happens, it’s tempting to stay trapped in the past instead of focusing on bringing healing to the children who desperately need it.

      1. Great I can’t wait. Just today I have written a draft letter stating no more tickling and no more rough housing. Stating my reason clearly. Also I sat children down and discussed our new rule aswell as walking away. This is so important. So is experiences of others.
        Here’s to offending others and keeping my kids safe.

  5. In reading your blog I had to think how many times I could have been abused especially since I was vulnerable -small for my age. health issues etc. I had to think why no one even attempted to do so esp since a girl my age that I knew seemed to “attract ” them. Looking back the difference was that my dad made sure that we had a good relationship and that I could tell him ANYTHING. There was no subject that was off limits-unless of course I questioned his AUTHORITY to make the rules. THAT was nonnegotiable! Another area was that he made it clear that if anyone hurt me in any way shape or form there would be consequences (not for me but for them). Further I was never ever forced to hug or kiss anyone if I didnt want to. If I didnt want to talk to someone that was ok. i think growing up with the confidence that I was in charge of my body (and that I was never afraid to speak at top volume if I needed to) sent the message that if they messed with me they would have to deal with my dad.

    1. I think that you hit the nail on the head with the relationship with your father. That is very near the top of the list for what protects a child. Both parents should do exactly what your dad did with you–you knew you could go to him with anything and not feel ashamed to say it. So many children are caught in abusive cycles because they fear telling anyone, including parents, about it. A father’s job is to protect his little children and nurture them with unconditional love. Many pedophiles prey on children who don’t have fathers, or who don’t have good relationships with their fathers. The pedophile steps in as the “hero,” giving affection to attention starved children while receiving praise from the mother for being a source of love to her child. The lack of a father’s undivided affection and love, combined with broken homes make children extremely vulnerable and tempting to opportunistic abusers. You are truly blessed to have had a loving father growing up.

  6. I set a lot of the boundaries you have mentioned. But when I look back, I can still see the loop holes and there were many times I stopped weird behavior happening to my kids .. It is everywhere

    1. It is everywhere, for sure. I’m finding that many people really feel bad about stopping the weird behavior with their kids. Good for you for standing up and shutting it down. Probably part of it is that, unless there is hard evidence, many feel bad telling someone not to do something they deem inappropriate with their kids. Strangely enough, when a fire alarm goes off we have no reservations about clearing a building even if there is no smell of smoke or evidence of a fire.

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