And so I want to continue to be real.
I initially hesitated to talk about this. Honestly, I don't want to be seen as a fuddy-duddy. I don't want to be seen as over-the-top. I don't want people to think my kids are stuck in a legalistic and too strict home.
But the truth is, I know none of those things are true. And I can't help what people think. I only need care what my God and my husband and a few choice confidants think of me.
So here it is:
I am a mom who doesn't plan on doing sleepovers.
Firstly let me say that this is not an all or none rule. There may be times that something necessitates a child staying at our house. And yes, our boys have had to stay at someone else's house in the case of an emergency. In addition, in the Azores, we felt so incredibly comfortable with our neighbor Carla that her boys stayed at our house on more than one occasion.
However, we plan on having sleepovers as the exception not the rule. We plan to reserve them for very special occasions that are more mandated than desired.
Our reason is that we simply cannot risk our children being exposed to sexual predators. Obviously we cannot prevent all bad things in our children's lives. But we feel it is our duty to protect them as much as humanly possible.
My husband sees far too much of this in his work in the ER. The stories he can tell would leave your skin crawling. The things he sees and has to witness involving children and their exposure to terrible things is absolutely sickening.
It is to real to him. And subsequently, real to me.
Both JB and I have met people, personally, that were molested by "safe people" during sleepovers. People we know very well. Some of these children were abused by adults. But we actually were shocked to meet now grown adults who were molested by other children while having a sleepover at their own home.
In other words, kids -- the same age as they are -- did something to them during a sleepover.
Not even close to okay.
I wish this was not the world we lived in. I wish this was something that we did not have to fear. But here are the facts as I know them. According to the Darkness to Light Campaign:
- There are 42 million survivors of sexual abuse in the U.S.
- 60% of child sexual abuse victims never tell anyone.
- Child sexual abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize.
- This year, there will be about 400,000 babies born in the USA that will become victims.
Even if you believe these numbers are not this high or these statistics are not accurate, even stats much lower than this are too risky for me.
Two articles really solidified our decision to avoid putting our children in these situations:
- Why my family won't do sleepovers
- What I want you to know about sexual abuse when it happens to your child
We actually take this a step farther. We go to nearly any length to avoid our child being at the home or in the presence of any male that is not in our intimate circle of people.
We just cannot risk it.
This means I will not allow my children to go to a friend's house (even to play) if there is a male present that I cannot basically stake my life upon this individual's reputation.
And even at that, my "opinion" is taking a chance.
If we have an older male boy stay at our house, even if he is a cousin, we closely monitor his involvement with our boys. We avoid leaving them alone, letting them close the door, and do not allow them to sleep in our boys' rooms. Obviously, things can also happen with girls, but we obviously feel the risk is so much more significant with males.
In addition, we don't believe that abuse is the only thing to fear when our children are staying at other people's homes. Exposure to television shows or video games or language that we don't approve of is also a genuine possibility.
We also go to great lengths to protect my husband's reputation. We avoid, at all costs, him being alone with another female in our home. He won't pick up or drop off a babysitter in our family. He won't have a young girl in his car (outside of emergency situations.)
I really try to be a positive person. I really want to believe the best in people. But I can be a bit of a Pollyanna when it comes to giving people the benefit of the doubt. And in this situation, I cannot risk it. It just isn't worth risking. My kids can still have a lot of fun without having slumber parties.
And if that makes me a fuddy-duddy?
Then so be it.
*****Update***** Please take a moment to read the comments to this post. I had many people point out that protection is needed for girls as well. I totally agree and was glad they really pointed out how lax we may have gotten in this area.
P.S. I would love to hear your opinions (nicely of course) on this topic!