A PUBLISHER WRITES: Some have asked why CLIFFVIEW PILOT publishes so many stories about people arrested on child sexual abuse charges.
Simple: I believe we can do better at preventing them from hurting our children.
For every monster who lays a hand on a child, there’s at least one parent or guardian who’s somewhere else — or, worse, looking the other way.
Take Karem Guzman of New Milford.
Authorities said she knew that her husband, Freddy Guzman, sexually abused a girl for four years, beginning when she was 12 — but did nothing about it. They charged him with aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and child endangerment and her with child abuse and neglect.
It’s good that these crimes are exposed and the alleged offenders charged.
Yet whenever the charges are proven true, it’s too late for the victimized innocents. They have been damaged, possibly even beyond repair. An essence of life was seized, perhaps never to return.
So please, please, PLEASE:
• Teach your children well. Don’t terrorize them into fear of a dark planet. Just make them aware that danger doesn’t come blowing an air horn or wearing a scary suit. Make them careful of ever allowing themselves to end up in a potentially harmful situation. Teach them what’s appropriate and what’s not, and to never be afraid to run from harm’s way immediately.
• Know where they are all the time. I don’t care how rebellious or evasive or difficult they might be; make it a point for them to know why you‘re so concerned. Then arrange for them to know exactly where YOU are at all times. Make sure they always have your number with them.
• Know the person you leave your kids with. It could be an uncle or cousin, boyfriend or brother — husband or father. Statistics don’t lie: Pedophiles rarely are complete strangers.
• Never, ever be afraid to ask your kids whether something wrong happened, even if all you’re operating on is a hunch or a gut feeling. Sometimes they don’t tell because they were never asked…. So listen carefully. Leave no room for misunderstanding: They should NEVER be concerned about telling you anything.
• Take heed if your son or daughter doesn’t want to be around a particular adult, or if his or her behavior changes around that person.
• If your child says he or she has been abused, believe it — or, at the very least, investigate thoroughly, with an open mind and focused attention. Teachers, psychologists and others say too many parents refuse to believe such a thing could be done by a close relative or friend. So don’t lie to yourself about the possibility — however slim you want to believe it is — that someone you think you know well could do unspeakable things to your baby. Sometimes a child cries “Wolf!” because there really is one.
The stakes are too high here. All you need do is look at the sheer volume of stories that are published and understand this: Many many more either aren’t reported by authorities to the media — or, worse, aren’t reported by victims (or their families) to the police.
This isn’t about fear or apprehension. It’s about responsible vigilance.
After all, if you can’t muster the animalistic instinct — if not the good sense — to best protect your kids, maybe you should serve some time, too.
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