Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I didn't mean to eavesdrop but they were talking about paedophiles

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I overheard a conversation today. I didn't *mean* to eavesdrop but the topic was so interesting that I couldn't help myself.

The women were discussing their habits in relation to leaving their children in the care of others.

They were all very particular about who could look after their kids (fair enough), but the conversation was very much centred on the gender of the carer.

They were debating the 'safety issues' of allowing their children to be babysat by men. And leaving their children in the care of men who work in childcare centres. Each had examples of their children being left alone with men. Each reported feeling incredibly uncomfortable with the situations they found their children in.

I can honestly say I have never considered this. That male babysitters or childcare workers *could* pose a greater threat to my children. I mean, I have certainly gently warned my children about talking to strangers and keeping their clothes on in public, but I haven't ever been concerned if my friend's husbands have taken on the 'minding' duties if their wife had to step out. Should I be more concerned or is it reasonable to assume that my friend's are married to 'good men'?

The conversation took another turn when they discussed overseas childcare centres. One woman reported that she had read an article about children who had contracted STIs whilst in the care of a 'Kid's Club' in a resort overseas. My ears pricked up. The very thought of that makes me feel sick to the stomach. Those poor children.

I hadn't even considered that these facilities are not governed by the same rules and regulations that ours are in Australia. Will my kids be at risk on our trip to Fiji if we use the Kids Club?

I am of two minds (surprise, surprise!). Half of me thinks I am very happy that my first thoughts about humanity are good. All men are not paedophiles. Why should they all be tarred with the same brush?

But my other half thinks that I would absolutely hate to put my children in a situation that turns out to be less than ideal. I can only imagine how horrendous the parents of those children with their STIs feel, both for themselves and their precious children.

So what are your thoughts? Do you treat all men as 'paedophiles' unless proven innocent*? If you are a man (I know there are a couple of you who read this blog), what are your thoughts on this kind of thinking?

* I am quoting one of the women from the conversation (that particular remark made me gag a little).


Maxabella said...

The thought of pedophilia makes me sick to my stomach, but oh god no! You can't live your life with that sort of thinking. It just doesn't make any sense and your children would miss out on establishing important relationships with a variety of male role models. Men are wonderful creatures, really!!! Statistically your child has more chance of being abused by members of their own family anyway... statistics are scary things. x

Joni Llanora said...

A very touchy issue. But sadly it's true, the stereotype exist. Men do have to be conscious of their actions around kids lest they be accused of "harassment". Husband is keen on this one too so though I know he's missing out sometimes, he keeps away from my child's girlfriends on play dates at home.

@jencull (jen) said...

We had a male carer in the creche my son attended, and we loved him. He brought a whole new dynamic to the childrens day, was great for rough and tumble etc. He didn't change the nappies but other than that responsibility was evenly distributed among the carers. Even the fact that he didn't change the nappies shows that there must have been discomfort on the part of someone or other!


We're the Wolski's said...

With statistics being as low as one in 6 girls and 1 in 8 boys being sexually abused, yes, I'm playing it safe. I'm happy for my children to form loving relationships with males but always under supervision. Yes it's harsh, and I agree with above that it's mostly by male members of your own family or close circle of yes I will protect them from my friends husband by not leaving them alone. It's so sad, but I will not risk my childrens safety just because I want to think of the world as a better place. My children have plenty of time to be kids and they get plenty of freedom. I know I can't protect them 100% but I feel it's my job to keep them safe, and sadly that's from members of my extended family. The statistics are there for a reason:(

Mummahh said...

That makes me sick to even think about it! i travel overseas with my kids and have used kids clubs in fiji and vanuatu, {ive NEVER had a problem} BUT i have never left my kids there or anywhere else unless they are of an age where they can talk, i dont send my kids to pre school for this reason, its sad to say but i dont trust ANYONE.

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

My MIL seemed very concerned when I mentioned once that there were a couple of male carers at my sons' daycare. To be honest, they seem far more natural with the kids than most of the female carers there! I would never assume just because they're male they're not trustworthy with my children.

I have a friend who won't let her husband be alone with any of her sons' female friends. Like what Joni said above. Not because she thinks he'll do anything (not at all!) but because she never wants him in a position that he could even be slightly accused of anything - as it happened to friends of hers. Her thought is, if he was to, say, touch the girl on the arm innocently and she then said something that could be twisted....

Anyway, I think you see what I'm saying.

I just find it sad though that the assumption is made. Like Maxabella said, you can't live your life thinking that way. It would be very sad. But I understand caution.

Lucy said...

The article they were quoting about the kids club - I read it when it was first published. One of the Child Magazines, I think.

I am sad when I tell you that I tend to agree with We're the Wolski's.

Shamozal said...

My ears pricked up when you mentioned a child getting a STD at a Kidsclub. When we lived in Jakarta I remember it happened to a family who left their child at a 5 star hotel in Bali. Awful.

I have to admit, I don't like my guys having sleepovers and I am very overprotective on who's in the house if/when we have a babysitter.

Really interesting post.

Kirsty (Shamozal)

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle

Cate said...

Not to add fuel to the fire, but I do like to think all the people I know are lovely and trustworthy, but there have been a couple of reports lately (such as the drama teacher at a very nice school here in melb photographing young girls while they changed) which remind me that the world is not always the way we would like it to be, and for my children's safety I need to be mindful of that

Gill@OurParklife said...

TOUGH the end of the day we need to protect our kids

sayin that i have worked with a few teachers who were male, working in early childhood and some of the BEST teachers I have ever would be a real shame to miss out on the teaching skills men can offer if our fear takes over...

I worked in south korea as a kindy teacher, my partner was an englishman and he struggled with the fact that he was EXPECTED to cuddle the little kids in his class, he was considered to have a "cold heart" becuase he did not do was impossible trying to describe to the Korean teachers that you absolultey can not touch a child as a teacher in western counties, especially if you are male...

Do the koreans have less cases of pedophilia? are we paranoid? I really do not know...

GREAT post

Gill xo

Jess said...

Unfortunately I have heard a first hand account of a siutation in a kids club in Fiji.. I wont go in to details but the toddler was abused and contracted an STD. They didnt know anything had happened until the symptoms developed. Very heartbreaking and enough for me to be put off leaving Isobel in a resort childcare centre before she is old enough to articulate herself.

The standards are different, there are no WWC and police checks - it is not the same as a male in a childcare centre in Australia. I did leave Izzy (she was 15 mths) with a Fijian Mum whom we got to know whilst we were there.. she was always within 500 mtres of us though and despite the Mum almost begging us, we didnt let her take Izzy to the nearby village without us. I cant imagine anyone would!

As for friends etc... I use my discretion and common sense. I wouldnt leave Izzy with anyone I didnt know or trust (male or female).

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